|Money for Travel in France|
|How to get and use money for trips to Paris & France, why your credit card may not work, and what to do about it.|
The unit of currency in France is the euro, as in most other countries of the European Union.
Foreign visitors to France have three options for obtaining euros:
Your Home Bank Card
Use your home bank ATM/cash card to withdraw euros from French distributeurs des billets (ATMs/cashpoints) or Retrait (cash witdrawal). Check with your bank to see if this will work without problems. You may also want to check the exchange rate, charges and fees imposed by your bank on foreign currency withdrawals, which may amount to 3% to 6% of your money.
Use a credit card, widely used for purchases in France, but only if it is a credit card with a computer chip in it (carte à puce).
If you plan to withdraw cash via your credit card, check the exchange rate, charges and fees imposed by your credit card company on the transaction(s). These may add up to a substantial amount. You may want to apply for a card that imposes fewer fees on foreign withdrawals before you travel.
The USA is making (belatedly) the transition to chip cards. Check with your bank to assure that your card is a chip-and-PIN (preferable) or chip-and-signature card. Businesses in France may not accept the older non-chip credit cards with only a magnetic stripe on the back. More...
You can exchange your home currency cash (dollars, pounds, yen, yuan, rubles, etc.) for euros at a bureau de change (currency exchange office) in France. Exchange rate spreads, commissions and service fees in France can take as much as 10% to 20% of your money for each exchange, so currency exchange offices may not be the thrifty option, and these days offices are few and far between.
Banks do not exchange foreign cash. In fact, many banks handle no cash at all except through ATMs.
In general, it is better to exchange money after arrival in France rather than at your home airport before flying. Also, airport currency exchange offices in France may offer poorer rates of exchange than currency exchange offices in the city center. More...
Travel Costs & Value
Many people imagine that travel in Paris and France is expensive. It's not true.
Some things in France are expensive, some are moderate in price, and others are positively cheap compared to prices in other countries.
And then there's the question of value for money. An excellent 20-euro lunch is a bargain. A terrible 10-euro lunch is a ripoff. Euro for euro, France offers excellent value for money, even in "expensive" Paris. Here are specific examples of prices and costs in Paris. More...
Refreshments in a café may seem expensive until you consider that you are not paying just for a cup of coffee, a soft drink or a glass of wine, but for ambience. An hour in a Parisian café, no matter what you drink, is one of life's great entertainments. In effect, you're paying rent for the enjoyable experience. (If you drink standing at the counter instead of sitting at a table, your drink may be cheaper. More...)
Here are sample prices to give you a feel for your daily disbursements in Paris.
Count Your Change!
A good tip in Paris or anywhere: whenever you pay with cash, always count your change.