Spent all day today, Thursday, the 17th, trying to get bucks out of Paris. Before I left Vincenne, I queried the web and found an address and phone number for the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC). Took the Metro, got off at Franklin D. Roosevelt (yup, an official stop on the Champs Elysee) and walked up the rue. Got to 40 rue de Boetsie — a beautiful building that did accomodate the CBC Paris branch, but did not host RBC. The receptionist called the number I had, which was disconnected.
Sent me to the Post Office a droit, a droit. A lovely patroness of the P.O. helped me with the clerk and we found no listings of RBC in Paris. (I have to say there are plenty for my main bank, HSBC, which would be good except that my Visa card is the RBC.)
They sent me to the Canadian Embassy, which is only open between 8 am and noon (without appointment). I got there, of course, about 1:30. But I prevailed and they couldn’t really help me but let me make a free phone call to RBC back home.
Why all this hoo-ha? Because the French have a very good security system that requires the use of a PIN to use a credit card, especially for cash withdrawals. Only a signature is required in Canada.
So, RBC folk told me that I could go into any bank that had a Visa sign on the door and get cash with two photo I.D. Hmm. Not quite true, though it’s hard to say as I kept missing the opportunity to try by being about 1/2 hour late each time. Tried three banks, ’til HSBC sent me to basically one of those 24-hour fast money outlets — that HEY, did give me a cash advance, but at the usorious rate of 8% (Euros). Well, I took it.
It’s called the Travelex and it’s at 125 Champs Elysees, just a few steps from the Arc de Triomphe.
So advice for future travelers: see if you can get a PIN number for your credit cards; bring enough cash to get you through, check to see if there is a branch of your bank in Paris (HSBC is good that way).
And, one of the best things I’ve done is get a Metro/bus/bicycle pass for the month.
Now, why did I have this problem altogether? Don’t invest with Edward Jones. They hang on to your money until is squeaks in pain trying to get to you. The Investor’s Group (in Halifax) at least is timely and does what it says. Be careful of those contracts that you work hard at, but pay as they get paid. Sigh.
Well, off to Montmarte and to scope out Austerlitz, where I’ll be taking the train to visit my friend Rod down near Dechen Choling near Limoge for a few days in a few days. More later.