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Reminder- keep your coins for public transport

Nice
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Reminder- keep your coins for public transport

A couple of incidents from the past few days to remind people to collect change if using public transport.

incident 1 - i met some holiday makers at the train station who needed help with the ticket machines and did not have enough coins to cover the Train tickets [19euros50] and didn;t have a card to use the blue machines.

The queue for the ticket counters was at least 30 mins long so they would miss their train if they tried waiting [i had just been in there renewing my carte zou and was glad i had a book with me].

Newsagent and station cafe and snack stand do not change money for people so they were a bit stuck-

I ended up buying the tickets for them with my card in exchange for the money .

Yesterday on the way back from Saint Vallier de Thiey, a woman tried to get on the bus en route with a 20euro note . Bus drivers will not accept 20s and above in the Alpes maritimes and Var regions , they want coins or maybe a 5euro note.

The very nice driver looked to see if he had enough change in his own money but didn't have sufficient change

i ended up giving the woman a euro coin to pay for her ticket otherwise she would have been stuck. in a place with limited transport

This is not the first time i have seen people potentially marooned somewhere fairly remote because they have notes and no coins and i helped them out with a coin or spare bus ticket

Edited: 05 October 2012, 16:14
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1. Re: Reminder- keep your coins for public transport

SelkieNice, very good advice. We found also that people in shops prefer exact change..

MrsJAS

Louisville, Kentucky
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2. Re: Reminder- keep your coins for public transport

This is a lesson I've learned over time, and thanks, Selkie, for this post. After a trip, this is one of those things that can end up on a traveler's "Wish I had Known" list, and this info is helpful.

Americans, in particular, tend to get rid of their coins, and we're not used to coins in amounts over twenty five cents. That's not how the Euro currency works. There are one and two Euro coins in addition to coins in values between one and fifty cents. I make sure I have both. The larger coins are good for situations as Selkie describes and on occasion, you may need smaller coins to access restrooms. When this has happened on my travels, it has usually cost forty cents to enter a stall and I've needed the exact change.

fleur-de-coin.com/eurocoins/introduction.asp

Additionally, I see this not only as a matter of convenience, but also as a security issue. Selkie described travelers possibly being stranded or missing their transportation because they didn't have the right means of payment, but an incident that affected me was when my wallet was lifted on a train between Eze and Villefranche. I think I attracted the attention of the group of teens who boxed me in when I was trying to find some way to get a ticket out of the station's kiosk. This happened when the manned counter at the Eze station was closed and I did not have a chip card. Not every traveler is going to be so fortunate as to have someone as nice as Selkie nearby, and I looked like an easy target when I stood there fumbling in front of the machine. Selkie, I wish I'd someone like you nearby! :-(

On the issue of chip credit cards, I will be traveling with a JP Morgan Chase "chip" card in a few weeks, and I'll be able to share how it worked for me. A chip is a square that is to the left and above the credit card number and that's what the automated machines read. Most American cards are read by magnetic strips on the back of a card and as long as we can find a manned counter, we're good to go. At this time, some American banks are starting to issue chip cards, but as yet, we don't have these cards with a pin. Most kiosks, toll booths and unmanned gas stations will only work with chip and pin cards, but as you will read on the following link from the Paris forum, some travelers have had luck using the Chase card when their purchases were less than $50 or they used "0000" as their pin. Whether this works seems to be more about the machine than the card, and I'll see how it goes when we are traveling in the Cote d'Azur:

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g187147-i14-k53183…

Here's another discussion on the topic:

tripadvisor.com/…43965886

There are links on these topics to places where travelers have been able to get chip cards.

Antibes, France
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3. Re: Reminder- keep your coins for public transport

The low limit on the use of cards seems to vary widely. SNCF (trains) machines take cards for the smallest fares. Some supermarkts as low as 1 euro, but the local bookshop not below 15 euro.

BTW selkie the problem I have with coins is what to do with all the 1s and 2s I have accumulated - they must be worth a fortune in melted down copper. Even the beggars won't take them.

Ed

Guildford, United...
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4. Re: Reminder- keep your coins for public transport

About 20 years ago I had a letter published in the Times pointing out that copper coins were worthless and must cost a good deal of money to produce. They are even more worthless now and add to the confusion of tourists not used to the coinage. Surely euro & sterling coins below 0.10 or even 0.20 should be scrapped?

Nice
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5. Re: Reminder- keep your coins for public transport

troggs- I think you are right that many people try and get rid of their coins not realizing how often they might need them.

Post office machines also use coins [or chip and pin cards] and more and more post offices are moving away from counter service for general post and relying on the self-service machines instead

Ed- Big companies can negotiate favorable transaction rates and it makes sense for them to be able to accept small amounts. Small companies may not be able to afford to accept card transactions for small amounts since it will cut into their profits.

Either take your ones and 2s to your bank when you get a reasonable amount , or start getting rid of them 10 or 5 at a time. Always carry them and use them in addition to notes -so for something costing 6 euros 14- give a 10 note and 14 in dross.and get 4 euro coins back .

Or put them in the charity box at the airport

Louisville, Kentucky
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6. Re: Reminder- keep your coins for public transport

Selkie, you mentioned that post offices are moving away from manned counters and their kiosks only accept chip and pin cards. On a trip to Amsterdam last fall, we were in the Centraal station and their counters had gone to all chip cards. We had to use an (very open!) ATM to withdraw a rather large sum of cash and had to walk through this station carrying our withdrawal. That is was not our favorite thing to do. I haven't run into anything like this in France, but I can't say it's not coming. I think that it's a good idea for travelers to get at least a chip card before they travel, and even if I don't have to use mine later this month, I'm going to feel better having it (and my stash of coins!) with me. Selkie, I like your suggestion that it's a good idea to strategize payment so one gets their change to include one or two Euro coins.

Thinking about the traveler who arrives in France and knows they are going to likely need coins from the start, remember that when you withdraw at an airport ATM, you are going to get bills. I don't recall ever having coins dispensed from an ATM, but maybe... If you think you are going to need coins upon your arrival, it may not be a bad idea to eat the fees (that are sometime "blindly" figured into the exchange rate) and get coins before you leave home or from a booth at an airport. This is likely to be relatively small amount so the extra charges aren't going to kill your travel budget. I'm assuming that the currency exchange booths dispense coins, but experts, do they and is there a minimum? We usually avoid these booths, but this may be a time when they are a good choice. Ever hopeful that we will return to a country after our immediate trip, we hold onto our Euros rather than trading them in. To avoid this becoming too much currency between trips, we try to use cash as often as we can as we near the end of our travel.

Ed, the small coins at least give you access to the restrooms that require payment. I've run into this in Eze, St. Paul de Vence and some of the coastal resorts where restaurants have facilities that are close to public beaches. The restaurants will usually allow their customers access without paying, but the coin locks seem to be a method to control walk in useage of their facilities. This may not qualify as "high value" useage, but it is sometimes "necessary." ;-)

Nice
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7. Re: Reminder- keep your coins for public transport

troggs- The post office machines take coins as well as cards. Some post offices have euro note to coin converter machines beside the self service

The airport in Nice has euro note to coin converter machines at baggage claim and there used to be [but i haven't looked recently ] at least one foreign note to euro note and coin machines in arrivals =iiirc you can choose the denomination of the euro notes received but the coins are just the relevant coins. I don't think you can choose to get just coins -maybe using a small foreign note would work.

I doubt the currency exchange booths would change a euro note for coins, but they would probably be happy to give more coins than normal if you were changing money with them ie say 10 euros in coins

Self service launderettes usually have euro note to coin changes but they tend not to be available in the wilds ;}

Ireland
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8. Re: Reminder- keep your coins for public transport

If you are coming to Nice from the US it makes sense to have some Euro notes already with you to use at the change machine at the baggage reclaim. I presume it is possible to get €20 notes in American banks!

Louisville, Kentucky
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9. Re: Reminder- keep your coins for public transport

Selkie, your info about the bills to coin converters in the baggage claim area will be particularly helpful to travelers who need coins upon arrival. I've never noticed these, but I'll try to find them when we travel later this month. Assuming that these machines only take Euros, we have found that we get our best dollar to euro exchange rate when we use an ATM at our arrival airport and use a major credit card. ATMs typically only dispense bills, but for coins, a traveler could then find one of these converters. One question: Will the converters take bills that are dispensed through ATMs? I'm asking this because ATMs in the US dispense ten and twenty dollar bills, and tens only if the amount of the withdrawal is uneven. Otherwise, it's all twenties.

NiceIreland, our local banks will give us Euros, but it's probably not like it is in Great Britain, Ireland and Scotland. American travel is not as frequent as it might be from those countries, and pre-trip currency costs us and has to be planned well in advance. There are fees, requests have to be made a good time prior to our trips, and because of the time lag, the exchange rate is not favorable. They do some kind of factoring that doesn't work in our favor. I have exchanged dollars for euros at an American bank branch at my departing international airport, but that has not gone well. We lost money in the exchange that we would not have lost if we had used an ATM at our arrival airport. Unlike our local banks, international airport branches have euros available and the loss through fees might be okay in small amounts, but I think the best option might be for a traveler to visit an ATM at the Nice airport and find the converter for their coins. I'm not sure that international airport bank branches dispense euro coins, but I'll check during our long layover at JFK in a few days...it will give me something to do!

Cote d'Azur bus drivers are sooo going to like us for this discussion!

Thoughts?

Edited: 07 October 2012, 03:44
Louisville, Kentucky
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10. Re: Reminder- keep your coins for public transport

Selkie, I just reread your post and got your "there used to be [but i haven't looked recently ] at least one foreign note to euro note and coin machines in arrivals =iiirc you can choose the denomination of the euro notes received but the coins are just the relevant coins." I'll be there in the a few weeks, and if it doesn't annoy my husband too much, I'll check this out!