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I am definitely French.

Today I went to the bank to deposit 134€ to make a payment.

I had 135€.

The bank teller told me, “We don’t have any change.”

And the funny thing was—this didn’t surprise me.

Like, at all.

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    • Noël

    I’m sorry, I’m a little daft I guess. I’ve been to France but I don’t quite understand why a bank wouldn’t have one euro in change.

    • Teresa

    Interesting. So basically you are expected to tip the bank?

    • ksklein

    lol… I can imagine a sleek French banker telling you this. : )

    • Steve

    Then what do they have at the bank?

    • fethiye

    Good God!

    After all those years I am still not an American tough ;) Last week I had to go to the bank to deposit 3 checks. I never added them up at home to know how much the exact total deposit would be but the I had a vague idea. The teller, after using a calculator, came up with a total which was about $200 less than the total I had in mind. I said I think it is wrong. She told me that she’ll run them through a machine which would add them up so if any error would be revealed there. Sure it came up to be approx $200 more than what her original total was. Her explanation to this: oh, when I used the calculator I might have made a mistake by adding this check (holding the one for about $169) twice! How it made sense to her, I had no clue but even after telling her that can never be the case didn’t enlighten the situation for her. And yes, I was still surprised. After 11 years being in this country.

    • Alisa

    ah bon! okay so you weren’t surprised, but please tell me that you were pissed off. I’m pissed off just reading about it!

    • Terrie

    lol David. Okay, this is really bad but also enormously funny and although I don’t live in Paris, after being there numerous times, I can understand perfectly why it doesn’t surprise you. Part of the charm, I suppose.

    • Vicky

    ROTFL!!! ‘Tis true that you can’t get any cash out of a French bank – that’s what ATMs are for :-)

    We have an equivalent story: my husband was at the post office, collecting a parcel. The man in front of him collected his parcel, and then asked to buy stamps. “I am sorry, Monsieur”, replied the post office teller, “We don’t sell stamps at this Post Office – you will have to go to the tabac or to the Post Office on Rue du Temple.”

    What I find confusing about the bank, however, is that they will TAKE your money. So you would think that they could make change!

    LOL – there are some very good reasons for which French banks do not figure on the list of the world’s largest banks. (In contrast, out of the ten biggest ‘grande distribution’ chains in the world, Walmart is first, but France has 4 entries in the top 10. So they know how to sell groceries + TVs + clothes + hardware + everything else, all under one roof, at the ‘grande surface’.)

    • David

    Also at my bank, when you make a deposit, you put the cash in a sealed envelope, hand it to the bank teller which they dropped in a lock-box.

    I kept giving it to them unsealed, thinking they might want to verify the amount before handing me a receipt, but they never did. (And I was always terrified that my statement would arrive with a different amount…)

    But they finally got wise and now they do count the cash before slipping that envelope in the safe.

    I’m glad they were so trusting before, but I can’t imagine a bank not counting the money. I just hope in the upcoming Presidential election they’re a bit more careful counting the votes!

    • Jeremy

    Well Dave, I guess we can call you a Frog now!
    Hey don’t feel so bad the banks here won’t take rolls of change of more then ten dollars, and you have to put your account number on each roll,can you imagine?


    • Amy Miche


    • faustianbargain

    Don’t you have a Monoprix to know, to show your solidarite?

    • ParisBreakfasts

    Too funny :)
    It used to be ya hadda get mugged or your appartment robbed to become a “TRUE” New Yorker – I guess it’s good that’s no longer the case…PS THANKS for the numerical security code instead of those rotten upside down letters that drive us dyslexis up the wall.

    • farmgirl


    • Mary

    David, you’ll have to turn it back on them to really be French. Practice saying, “Non, Ca ne va pas etre possible” while you don’t let your face move for 10 seconds and you only blink your eyes once (slowly) while staring at the person.

    • David

    Yes Mary, you’re right. Every time I need to go to the bank, it takes me about a day to prepare myself, then a day afterwards to recover. I’ve often engaged in the stare-down, which indeed works well. But this was one of those days when I just didn’t have it in me.

    One of those days when it’s worth a euro just to get out of there.

    • Lorna

    Yes, the ‘next in line’ thought process doesn’t exist at the post office. We were waiting patiently at the beginning of a carefully placed 2 row waiting area for 15 minutes. As an opening happened and we were getting up to take the spot…some dude came running into the post office and swept in front of us.

    Other ‘le francais’ had already warned us in advance not to expect to get postage stamps at the post office….:) What were we thinking.

    • Lola

    So, I took the french class, I studies aboad here TWICE, but I was never prepared for the french banking system! This is a class of its own. Two months after arrival in France, and with a french bank account with EUROS in it, we have still have no checks. We have to order a cheque de banque two days before we want it. whew…

    • Bob Y

    Congratulations David (I think). A beautifully written little vignette.


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