Adieu to French franc after 10 years of Euro
French savers were exchanging their old franc notes right up to the currency deadline last night.
The euro replaced the franc in 2002 -- but the central bank had continued to accept francs in exchange for euros. That was until yesterday.
A decade might seem to have been enough time to get to the bank, even for the worst procrastinators. But lines of last-minute holdouts formed all week long outside Banque de France branches, the last place where francs can be swapped for the new currency at the rate of 6.5 francs for a euro -- the rate that was locked in when France joined the euro in 1999.
The French press has been filled with reminders about the looming deadline and some people heard about it just in time.
The central bank estimates that even after yesterday's deadline, around half a billion euros worth of old franc notes will remain in the wild, unexchanged and worthless.
The existence of the euro, used by over 330 million people in 17 countries, has come into doubt recently as European governments failed to prevent the financial crisis from widening from Greece to Italy and France.
The French and German leaders' shock admission that Greece might leave the euro only added to those concerns.
France is the second eurozone country to phase out its old currency, after Italy stopped exchanging the lire in December.
Finns have until the end of this month to turn in their last markkaa, while the Dutch get to hang on to their old guilders until 2032.
Meanwhile, Greece edged closer yesterday to winning a new rescue package worth ¤130bn.