Archive Article: 2002/02/15

15 February 2002

TIM has just come in and thrown a 50-note on the table saying its my treat for the weekend (notes on the table for me, bacon rind under the table for the dogs – were so spoilt)! Now a 50-franc note I would shove in my pocket and use it for buying the bread but this is 50k, worth 327 francs 98 centimes, (about £32), far more respectable than a mere fiver. So hmm, what shall I do with it?

Im getting used to handling the shiny new coins in my new soft leather purse bought for the purpose, but I still have trouble converting back (to francs) to get an idea of the value; so I carry one of the free Christmas gifts from our contractors, a slimline franc-to-k converting calculator, in my bag. I have the petrol sussed, 30k is about 200 francs (about £20), 45k is a little under 300 francs (about £30) and so on. More difficult is buying the bread now at k0.70 for a baguette, on average, instead of 4.60 francs, an 8% increase.

Taking into account that there would, inevitably be certain price increases, manufacturers and distributors agreed not to implement any rises between Nov 1, 2001 and Mar 31, 2002, but certain products "went up" earlier in the year before we consumers had thought to take notice. Besides which, the effect of stabilising the prices didnt work as no one had taken into account small businesses and artisans who, not having made any such agreement, took advantage of putting up their prices well above the recommended rate at the changeover.

Since the beginning of the year, the average man is paying more attention to price tickets in the supermarkets, looking for increases. Well aware that the centimes (in France we have kept the old world "centimes" rather than adopt the more American sounding "cents") have a much higher value than the old. Goodness knows how the older generation are coping, those, that is, who still talk in old centimes and there are a lot about. Right up to last year the market at St Pierre sur Dives was still selling calves in old money so that a calf worth £100 (1000 francs) would be sold for 100,000 centimes.

What about the money creeping out of the woodwork? An old bachelor customer of a friend of ours asked said friend to accompany him to the bank. He had four plastic bags loosely stuffed with notes, no, hang on, heres another five plastic bags equally well filled. The amount couldnt have been too excessive as the bank didnt refuse to take it. But apparently there is a limit.

Now what shall I buy with my crisp 50k note?

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