We have all been chuckling lately along with David Lebovitz in reference to his little change fiasco at Monoprix, highlighted in his blog… and yes it is so common to run into difficulties getting change.
I had a student on her study abroad session ask me what to do with a 500€ bill that her grandmother had given her for emergencies (oh those grandmas, very thoughtful but not always up-to-date on the practicalities of modern day monetary etiquette. I bet she had it tucked away under her mattress before handing it to her granddaughter!). So when the student asked me where to break this bill I was somewhat at a loss of what to advise her not used to changing such large bills myself. I recalled an incident with my father a couple years ago with his one hundred dollar bills he wanted to change to euros and the post offices refusing to take that bill (worried it could be fraudulent I suppose, the méfiance typique des français or the old difficult administrative streak… it’s hard to decipher between the two). so, I decided to ask my bff, google, for advice. I typed in words like Banque de France agence Paris, … and found a site with a phone number, dialed it, asked if they would change large bills and then nearly fell over in my chair because they said ‘oui’!
The person on the other line then proceeded to tell me opening hours (which are minimal…c’mon what did you think this was going to be, perfect?) and the address. I felt like I had won a secret battle after hanging up the phone. All those past years of fighting with cashiers and banks who will not give you change, as if money were a thing to be afraid of. The Banque de France saved the day.