France Bids the Franc Farewell
The French Franc, first introduced in 1360, exited the world’s stage Friday, which was the deadline to convert franc bills into euros, the European common currency. Coins denominated in francs were taken out of circulation in 2005
France became the second eurozone country to officially retire its national currency, following Italy’s move to do the same in December. Many European nations have not announced any plans to stop exchanging their former currency for euros but the Finns have until the end of this month to exchange their markkaa while the Greeks, presuming their country remains on the euro, have until March 1 to exchange drachmas. By contrast, the Dutch guilder will remain in circulation until 2032.
France joined the euro in 1999 and the exchange rate for euros and francs, 6.55957 francs for 1 euro, was fixed at that point. The euro officially replaced the franc in circulation in January 2002. After Friday’s deadline, there will still be half a billion euros worth of old franc notes, not to mention untold numbers of coins that were not exchanged and are now valuable only to coin collectors or as a souvenir, the French word for “to remember.” This includes the 50 franc note that depicts Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince standing alone on his planet (pictured).