8. The bank with no money

money pink coins pig

Is cash out and the contactless card in? The French bank notified us that we can tap up to 50 euros, which is a giant leap forward in a part of the country where people delve into their bags or pockets for their cheque book.  Technology moves slowly in the deep SW and a cheque-less society is not anticipated any time soon. That doesn’t mean that someone could steal your card and go tapping around the country. Haven’t ascertained yet whether ‘tapper‘ is now a French verb. ‘The immortals’, as the members of the Académie Française are known, will no doubt lose sleep over that one; the “deadly snobbery of Anglo-American”, as one member mocked last year.

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The local ATM ejected an unwanted 50 euro note which was not requested from the machine. Went into the bank to change it and were confronted by Monsieur Maggot. When we opened the account it entailed signing several sheets of paper, and a written affirmation from monsieur le maire that we existed. The manager’s signature was unreadable. It looked like ‘maggot‘ so subsequently that was how we knew him. Please could he change the note for smaller amounts for the local market.

‘Mais, non.


‘We ‘ave no money.’

‘But you are a bank.’

‘Ah, but we keep no money ‘ere – sécurité.

There was no answer to that. This negative reply is not unusual when, say, one is trying to order an item in a shop that is not in stock. Someone who had made a study of the French psyche said that it gave the respondent time to think. To say ‘oui’ allowed for no w(r)iggle room. While we’re on fatalism who was it said that France was paradise inhabited by people who think they are in hell? Google it and you’ll get plenty of response. Apparently it’s all to do with France’s generous social security system.

The government was offering grants for home insulation plus an interest free loan spread over ten years. We asked Monsieur Maggot for details but he said the issue was so complicated that we would be better off taking a loan from his bank at 4.5%!


This  is the eusko; over €1 million worth of euskos were in circulation here in the Basque region of France by the end of 2018. Why? Ostensibly to support local businesses but also to generate enthusiasm for Basque culture. It’s hard to find reliable statistics but there are supposedly more than forty micro-currencies dotted around France.  According to the BBC the eusko is the most successful local currency in Europe putting it  ahead of the Bristol Pound. Paris toyed with the idea of introducing its own micro-currency but haven’t yet seen evidence of its use; appealing designs though.


Suppose you are now allowed to go on holiday where micro-currency is used; how do you know that the banknote in your hand is genuine? Well, there are involved instructions for you to follow. As briefly as I can make it here are two of them:

TOUCH: there are tactile marks for the sight impaired

LOOK: there is a water mark and a thread, visible if held up to the light.

http://www.ertzaintza.eus will give you the full monty.

By the way this is not where the expression originated.


Two explanations will do; there are probably more

The Sunday best three-piece suit from a high street tailor (the full Montague Burton) or the full English breakfast insisted upon by Field Marshall Montgomery.  Anyway, we seem to have drifted off piste.

Money laundering has taken on a whole new meaning. Allegedly people have been putting banknotes into their washing machines to cleanse them of the virus. Maybe apocryphal but you need to live where notes can stand that treatment. Australia prides itself on its dollar notes that can tolerate a day’s surfing. They’re totally waterproof and resistant to water and dirt. China, on the other hand, destroyed or disinfected thousands of banknotes to eliminate the spread of the virus.

So, where will all this take us?  Went down to the garden centre today to buy one small item. Confronting you at the entrance:


It was superfluous though because some customers still paid cash. I tapped in my paltry  €5 which was quicker. Went into Carrefour but used real coins; the first time for nearly three months. It was an odd feeling rummaging for the correct cash after so long. For virtually three months Madame and I have done our supermarket shopping  on-line and driven to collect it. No home deliveries out in the sticks.

Where now? None of us knows but a cashless society is now more probable than possible. We shall see.

Next post 9.  On parade

IMG_7023 (Edited)

Published by Down Under diary

Down Under diary

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