Thinking in Dollars, Francs or Euros

Thinking in Dollars, Francs or Euros
I was telling a food-writer friend about my meal at the Jardin d’Ampere recently and gave him the price I had paid in Euros (52 E). He responded saying that was much too much, translating the price into dollars ($75). Now he’s only been in France four years so I can forgive him for thinking things look pricy. But a few days later another food-writer friend was writing about her latest meal at Kitchen Galerie bis and said it amounted to almost a “Benjamin” that is, $100. A third friend wrote me that “with the dollar tanking daily, a €45-€55 lunch isn’t so attractive anymore.” However, I’ve been paying for food for 55 years in France and I’ve come to roll with the punches. Or as my trusted (ancient Zurich gnome) financial advisor says every time I suggest exchanging money because the rate looks good – not “play the money game.” Let’s do a quick historical trip. In 1953, when I first spied France’s golden shores from the Holland Lines Ship, $1.00 American got you 350 French Francs – WOW! But those were old francs and not only tattered and beaten up by the War and steadily losing value. By the time I came back to France after graduating from college, the dollar bought almost 500 Francs. In 1960, 100 old Francs became 1 new Franc (I still have a 50 Franc note worth bupkis) and funny money became serious. But the slide did continue. When Colette and I toured Europe in the summer of 1985, the Franc was 10-1, the pound at par and the Italian Lira was ridiculous. That was the summer we stayed at Pere Bise, the Villa d’Este on Lake Como and Evian. The dollar was King. Even when we first bought our permanent home in Paris, things looked pretty cheap, comparatively. That summer, I recall having a meal at the brand new Bistro du Dome and thinking that 550 Francs was about right for a dinner with wine for two (100 bucks right?). Now the shoe is on the other foot. The dollar has decreased in value dramatically against the Euro for many reasons – I tend not to think of conspiracy theories but that International Harvester and Dow Chemical et al. do indeed profit from a weak dollar and who are we, poor slobs living on fixed incomes, trying to jetset our way thru life, to complain.. So I have a mental trick. 1 dollar = 1 Euro. Right? That’s what it was once, indeed in 2000 even stronger than that. So for all those meals I had when it was 0.9 I’m now paying back at 1.4. It all evens out in the end I figure. Is Satan really going to insist upon some VAT/exchange payback when I die? I say enjoy! The dollar, like the South, will rise again. Where this all started was at the: Jardin d’Ampere (Hotel Ampere) 102, ave de Villiers in the 17th, (Metro: Wagram) T: Closed Sundays at dinner Costing 40-80 a la carte but with lunch formula/menus at 24 and 28 €. ©2010 John A. Talbott Please post your comments or questions and let them flow. Register HERE to do so if you need a Bonjour Paris user name and password.

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