Traveling to France as a student is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you’ll never forget. One of the most crucial pieces to having a successful trip abroad is understanding French currency and how it’s used.
So if you’re preparing for an upcoming trip, here are seven things you should know about the currency in France.
1) United States-France Currency Exchange Rate
It’s important to know that most U.S. money is not accepted by the majority of French establishments, although certain tourist-focused places like hotels, gift shops or restaurants may accept U.S. dollars at an established exchange rate. France uses the Euro and comes in various denominations.
Here’s the current exchange rate for U.S.-France currency:
1 Euro equals
1.17 U.S. Dollar
2) Where to Exchange Currency
You can exchange your U.S. dollars for Euros at the majority of banks and post offices, as well as at train stations, airports or exchange offices located around tourist areas. Keep in mind that in addition to losing money on the fixed-rate exchange, you’ll also be paying an exchange agent commission, which will be established at the time of transaction. If you’re only exchanging a small amount of cash, your hotel may be adequate, although you may be paying a higher rate for the convenience. For larger amounts of money, go to a larger bank or exchange office in town, who can offer lower rates. Additionally, exchange your U.S. traveler’s checks at banks or exchange offices because very few businesses will accept them.
Another option to lower your exchange rate is to use an ATM. By withdrawing directly from your savings rather than a credit card, the transaction is treated as a cash advance. Unless you have alerted your bank that you’ll be using your credit card overseas, it’s likely to be flagged and frozen. Almost every ATM in France will accept the major credit cards like Discover, Visa, MasterCard and even American Express in major cities.
4) Prices in France
Paris is by far the most expensive area in France, while the outlying regions offer much more affordable prices for hotels, restaurants and entertainment. For student tourists and those under 18 years old, there are discount opportunities for things like transportation, museums, tours and much more. While prices are generally higher than what you might find in the U.S., taxes are included, making it easier to mentally tally up grocery items or the cost of a meal at a local café.
5) Tipping in France
Tipping in France is different from the United States. At nearly every restaurant in France, the bill will include a 15 percent service charge in the final price. If the food was exemplary or service was top-notch, another 2-3 percent is customary. If you visit a restaurant that doesn’t include a service charge, 15-20 percent is adequate, similar to the U.S.
Here are a few other helpful tipping tips:
- Hotels – tip porters approximately 1.50€ for each bag and chambermaids 1.50€ per day
- Taxi drivers – tip 10-15 percent of the metered fare
- Washroom attendants, ushers – tips around 1€
- Tour guides and bus drivers after an excursion – tip 1.50-3.00€, depending on your experience
6) French Bank Hours
The normal banking hours in Paris are from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday. In other regions of France, banks normally stay open from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm, close, and then reopen from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm, Tuesday through Saturday. Banks shut down for public holidays.
7) Saving Money Tips
While France and Paris carry a stigma of affluence, you can make the trip on virtually any budget. To save money, there are several discount opportunities for seeing the sights, food markets for fresh, delicious food, and of course, local hostels to reduce lodging costs.
Have Fun in France!
Now that you know these seven things about French currency, you can have a worry-free and budget-conscious trip. Bon voyage!
Take a Trip with Vistas in Education
As a student traveling to France, you’re about to embark on an unforgettable trip to one of the most beautiful countries in the world. If you need help with budgeting, logistics or student exchange programs, get in touch with us today. We’re the number one student travel company for both French and U.S. students. Find out how we can help you.