The Dollar has Never Been Weaker

Written by admin on April 13, 2007 – 3:46 pm -

If my memory serves me right, and unfortunately, it does, the dollar has never been weaker vs. a vs. the Euro. Each time I go to convert money via this conversion site; I’m nearly felled by cardiac arrest. It’s one thing if you’re an Expat who’s working in the EU and being paid in Euros.  It’s quite another if you’re living in the EU and your income is dollar based.

In spite of this monetary nose-dive (if you’re an American), the Maison de la France, (the French Government Tourist Office) states  that France is still the world’s #1 tourist destination. Seventy-eight million foreign travelers visited France in 2006, an increase of 2.7% over 2005. Statistics cite there were 3.1 million American tourists and France remains the second most popular destination for Americans who are boarding flights headed to the EU.  Not bad considering how the cost of airline tickets has shot up and with the dollar tanking.

Bonjour Paris readers are continually asking whether or not they should come to France or other countries in the EU. Our resounding response is oui. Bonjour Paris is filled with tips about how to make your travel dollar go further. I’m amazed over the great bargains that are still available.

Your greatest expense will probably be where you stay.  We’re great advocates of renting apartments and/or sneaking some drinks into your fridge. I’ve known friends to buy an EU current electrical warmer so they can have a cup of coffee or tea before heading out for a day and sightseeing or just walking. Many people book last-minute “remaindered” rooms on hotel booking sites that are omni-present.

If you plan to see different parts of France, Buy a Eurail pass that fits your needs. It’s the most efficient and cost-effective way to travel throughout Europe. Don’t forget to specify if you’re senior and or a couple (or more) who plan on taking the same trains at identical times.

There are definite ways to save money (rather, Euros). Mass transit is generally better in European cities than in the US. Do your homework and unearth what pass you should buy the minute you hit foreign soil.

It’s hard to impossible to forego a car in Los Angeles. Having one in Paris is a mega headache. The traffic can cause anyone to waste hours stuck in traffic, looking for a parking space and then buying the car out of hock should you park in a lot.

Locating a street parking space is hard to do – and if you should be so lucky, plan on having to move the car every two hours. It’s not a question of adding extra Euros in a meter (some people have been known to bribe a kind soul to do that) but getting a printed ticket from a machine and placing it on the dashboard of the car.

Always pay parking fines should you be ticketed, because sooner than later, the rental car company will find you and your credit card will be automatically debited – no questions asked.  Paris’s mayor Bertrand Delanoe isn’t a fool when it comes to collecting easy revenue.

Watch those elegantly dressed parking meter minders hit the streets with pads and pens in hand. They appear from nowhere and voila, within minutes, you owe the city government more than a few Euros. No matter how quickly you run to rescue the car, should you be parked illegally while picking up something in a store, these folks write faster.  Some even appear riding bicycles.

OK – you’re in France, where are the bargains?  More than likely, you’ll find them in the grocery stores.  Try to get out of central Paris and hit a hyper-marche (mega supermarket) in the suburbs. You’ll me amazed by what you can buy from the most adorable babies’ clothes, sexy underwear at a fraction of the price found in regular department stores, children’s clothing and clothing for adults. They may not be the best quality ….but they’re more than fine for most people. Plus – wrap them elegantly and these clothes and other articles make great gifts.  People even buy shoes that are comfortable and come in a full range of sizes.

The other week, a friend wanted to buy French clothes for his teenage daughters. We headed to a very unglamorous strip mall (constructed out of aluminum) and raced from one store to another. We happened on and within minutes, we’d made a ton of purchases these girls swear look very French.  I’m not so sure – but their father was only 80 Euros poorer and his three daughters were delighted by their cache. The adage is shop where the French (or natives) do – and remember the majority of them live on moderate incomes.

Many people have the idea that coming to Europe is so expensive as to be prohibitive. If you take hints from natives of your host country, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. In addition, you’ll have a wonderful time. Europe isn’t filled with exclusively three star Michelin restaurants.

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