Today we will be focusing on what you might expect to find should you be in France for a vacation. These observation are anecdotal and not taken from seasoned analysts with inside access to the political dynamic. Rather, it is the view on the street from a tourist with somewhat limited access to information beyond my impressions.
Confirming the cliches.
France is Expensive.
The currency used in France is the Euro.
The Euro is curious because it is worth more than a dollar but appears to buy a whole hell of a lot less than a dollars worth of goods and services.
As of yesterday’s exchange rate, $1.33 buys you one Euro. So, if you want 100 Euros to spend, it would cost you approximately $134. But you say, you have a more valuable currency now, you can buy more stuff. Wrongo my red-necked friend. Let’s look at an example.
I want a d*mn cup of coffee in the morning. There are only two rules, it must have caffeine and it must be available in mass quantities.
So after visiting a few cafes and realizing that the choices are thimble-size espresso shots for $4.00 US or shotglass sized coffee au creme for about $4.90, you are thrilled to discover there is a McDonalds with coffee on the menu.
So your jonesing for 22 glorious ounces of a crappy yet fully effective roasted cup of coffee. Well, in the US, that might set you back $.89. But you walk away with a big a$$ cup of wake me up juice.
Not so in France. McDonald’s equivalent cup it the Cafe Creme. And it is a decent quality expresso-styled drink that runs about $1.85. Would it be worth it? Yes, unless you actually wanted 22oz of d*mned coffee to walk around with in the first place.
In fact for a country that is legendary for it’s fine coffee beverages, it is dang near impossible to get a simple cup of joe in a paper cup.
Because of the exorbitant prices on everything (I can’t find a cheeseburger for less than $15), you find yourself spending faster than a Greek pensions bursar. The only time I’ve seen money go so fast was when the pit boss at my Vegas craps table was running his Hoover across my bets in the worst run of luck since the Hindenburg disaster.
Truth is, I think the expensive cost of living results in the middle class living in cramped apartments, driving cramped sub-compact cars (more pix later) and paying more for the basic necessities of life. But with the promise of “free” healthcare they seem happy with it. And to be honest, their “top 1%” has all the goodies – there are plenty of Mercedes, BMWs and expensive real estate. But the middle class is content with this. They don’t get the newest iPhones, their laundry rooms are washers tucked next to the dishwasher in their kitchens and a restaurant meal is a rare treat. But again, they seem content with that.
Our next installment is about the surprises that a non-jet-setter discovered. Think of it as Mythbusters – Buffet Edition