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Archive for Sunday, February 17, 2002

After seven centuries, France to bid ‘adieu’ to franc

February 17, 2002

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— The first French francs bought freedom for King Jean le Bon, held hostage by the English in 1360. But by midnight today the franc won't even buy a cup of coffee.

Without fanfare or tears, France is preparing to say "adieu" to its old currency, to be fully replaced by the euro on Monday.

"The franc is history," said Jean-Claude Caldagues, owner of a cafe on Paris' Left Bank.

The French franc has been circulating side-by-side with the euro since the new currency was introduced Jan. 1 in 12 European countries. But on Monday, the franc will cease to be legal tender for purchases.

Those left in the backs of drawers can be cashed in at banks for euros until June 30. Procrastinators can change coins at the Bank of France for another three years, and notes for another 10 years.

More than 95 percent of cash payments are already being made in euros, Finance Minister Laurent Fabius said this past week.

The first franc, a gold coin, was created in December 1360 to pay off ransom to the English to free King Jean Le Bon, detained for four years during the 100 Years War.

The franc was later eclipsed by the ecu and other currencies.

It was permanently revived in 1795.

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