The franc returns to France

THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images Some may say it was done for profit, but there is a certain cultural je-ne-sais-quoi about the return of the franc for the village of Collobrières. The town of 1,600, nestled deep in Provence, has re-allowed the use of its country’s former currency for everyday purchases, prompting citizens to turn out in ...

594373_080630_francs5.jpg
594373_080630_francs5.jpg

THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images

THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images

Some may say it was done for profit, but there is a certain cultural je-ne-sais-quoi about the return of the franc for the village of Collobrières.

The town of 1,600, nestled deep in Provence, has re-allowed the use of its country’s former currency for everyday purchases, prompting citizens to turn out in droves with fistfuls of francs. Baker Nathalie Lepeltier, who came up with the idea, claims it will convince her fellow townspeople to spend more:

The euro has made life more expensive; prices are much higher… people have lost the concept of the value of money with the euro.”

That’s a questionable claim, but the franc’s reintroduction has helped the villagers of Collobrières strengthen one value — their French identity. The French public has long shown aversion to EU membership, most notably in 2005 when the country voted “non” on the EU constitution. Now, poised to take the EU presidency tomorrow, the French government has promised a “citizen-centered” approach and to “reconcile Europe with French citizens” during its tenure. Bonne chance: 63 percent of French citizens polled earlier this year do not think that the French presidency will bring Europe closer to the French population.

It’ll be especially tough to convince villages like Collobrières, where national and local identity often reign supreme. Some of those interviewed from the town knew nothing about the Lisbon Treaty, the set of EU institutional reforms that Ireland rejected earlier in June. But Collobrières’ citizens don’t have to know much about global affairs to feel their impact — inflation has heavily impacted the franc’s value. Says Lepeltier:

People remember the price in francs, and they’re shocked now when they use francs at how much more everything costs.”

Read More On Economics | Europe | France

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