Foreign currency and getting cash
Foreign Exchange Rates
Use this handy converter to find out how many Euros you get for the dollar?
Currency in the European Community, including France, is the Euro.
- There are exchange facilities at most banks in larger towns and at all major airports. You may be charged a commission for exchanging currency as well as a tax on the commission. Normally, only paper currency is accepted (no coins). You will usually get the best exchange rate at a bank.
We do not recommend travelers’ checks
- Note that travelers’ checks are rarely being used in France or elsewhere in Europe. You will not be able to use them in rural areas or small towns at all. They cannot be used at shops, hotels, restaurants or small town banks. Even some larger banks no longer exchange them for Euros.
ATM’s are the best way to obtain local currency (Euros)
- There are numerous ATM machines available in larger towns and cities where you can withdraw money directly from your bank account in the U.S. Check with your bank to see if they have an affiliate in France where you can withdraw money with no transaction fees. For example, Bank of America is affiliated with BNP which has numerous ATM's throughout Paris and France. Don't forget your 4-digit pincode!
Call your credit company before leaving home
- Call to tell them where and how long you are traveling. Otherwise, they may block your card for unusual activity.
We do not recommend getting Euros with your Visa or Mastercard credit card
- If the bank will allow, it, there is generally a commission as well as interest charged from the day you take the money until it is paid in full.
Major credit cards are widely accepted for purchases
- For hotels, restaurants and shops, you can usually use your credit card. Be sure to check with your credit card company to see if they charge fees for use overseas.
When to use cash
- Plan to use cash at street markets and in cafes, small stores, toll booths and public transportation.
Many small businesses do not accept American Express because of the larger fees
- Be sure to bring a Mastercard or Visa as a backup.
France and Europe have new "chip and pin" credit cards
- These are used in many automatic pay stations such as metro tickets, 24/7 gas pumps, etc. When driving on toll roads, be sure to have enough Euros in cash to pay the tolls in the event your credit card is not compatible with the "chip and pin" system.