To help you combat the stress of handling loose euro change and avoid ending up with an unused pile of centimes at the end of your trip, here are some tips on handling your euro cash like a local.
Counting Your Change
We’ve already discussed the fact that tipping is unnecessary in French restaurants and cafés because a gratuity is automatically included in the price of beverages and food.
It is customary for French waiters to count out your change coin by coin at the moment you pay your bill in a little table-side ritual in which they expect your full attention. Once you get over the ceremonial aspect, you might find that this kind of transparency is reassuring, ensuring that by accident or design you don’t end up getting short-changed. (If you insist on leaving them a little something, do so after they have counted your change to avoid confusion.)
Don’t Be Surprised If a French Storekeeper Asks You For Change
Unlike French waiters, French storekeepers are notorious for not having or wanting to part with any of their change, switching the burden of making change onto the customer.
Getting a handle on your euro coins will help you avoid panicking on the spot and fumbling with change. You might find yourself wishing the U.S. minted more one dollar coins once you get used to paying for a coffee with one or two euro coins. And those who find pennies annoying will want to claw their eyes out at the prospect of the 1-centime coin, with a circumference as small as a baby’s toenail.
Don’t Be Afraid To Keep Them Waiting
But even with advance practice, you might feel self-conscious when it comes time to pay for something in cash and fret that your lack of fluency in euro coins is going to exasperate the person behind you.
Not to worry: French people are used to waiting in lines while the person in front of them counts their change, packs their own groceries and otherwise has the floor. Nobody is going to give you a hard time if you stand counting out every last centime or one-euro coin in your wallet like a nonagenarian before handing it over to the person manning the till.
If you don’t want to end up with a big pile of worthless centimes at the end of your trip, then feel free to count out those miniscule single cent coins at the boulangerie or leave the waiter at the café with a pile of shiny yellow centimes.