Ten years after instituting the euro as the national currency, France said goodbye to the franc this weekend.
According to the American Foreign Press (AFP), hundreds of people lined up at the offices of France’s central bank on Friday to exchange old francs for euro banknotes as it was the last day mandated by the bank to make the exchange.
When the country first instituted the euro in 2002, the Bank of France set up a three-year period in which citizens could exchange franc coins and old-series banknotes for euros. The exchange period for newer francs, however, lasted until this year – ending Friday.
The bank saw more than 1,000 people stop by its offices on Thursday, and by Friday a lineup to make exchanges spilled out into the streets of Paris “extending halfway down the block,” the AFP reported.
The exchange wasn’t instant either. Those who dropped off their old notes will have to wait until March to receive notification of when and where to pick up their new euros.
In order to remind people to make the final exchange, a series of advertisements aired in France in advance of the deadline and the Bank of France set up a website to help citizens locate their nearest central bank branch.
However, not everyone who wished to make the exchange was so lucky.
Restaurateur Didier Montanari, ventured to the central bank after hearing about the deadline on the news but left disappointed after his three 100-franc bills from the 1980s were deemed too old to exchange.
“They don’t exchange the Eugene Delacroix,” he told AFP, referring to the French artist whose likeness graces the bills.
It was estimated that at the end of 2010 there were still 50 million franc notes at large, worth the equivalent of 602 million euros, the AFP reported.