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Friday, 14 December, 2001, 15:52 GMT
Consumers get first feel for euro
Euro coins
A first glimpse of the new coins in Ireland
Euro "starter packs" are being distributed in France, Ireland and the Netherlands ahead of the formal launch of the currency's notes and coins on 1 January.

Some lucky consumers were even given the handful of coins for nothing.

But the prospect of a free cash handout wasn't enough to entice the inhabitants of Maastricht - Dutch birthplace of the euro project - out to the banks.

A BBC News Online reporter at a city centre bank branch found only six people in the queue at the 9am opening, three of whom were other journalists.

Cafes and tobacconists were among the outlets selling the starter kits in France.

Euro starter pack in Caen

Some went to banks to get their 100 francs worth of euro coins.

Euro starter pack in Paris

In Holland, the packs were also distributed at petrol stations.

Child collects starter pack in the Hague

European Central Bank governor Wim Duisenberg got his hands on a pack.

European Central Bank governor Wim Duisenberg

Germans will get their euro starter pack early next week.

Germany's euro coins starter pack

Some passers-by in Nice were interested enough to stop for a look.

Euro coins in Nice
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The BBC's Evan Davis in Calais
"A little bit of history is under away"
See also:

14 Dec 01 | Business
Paris rush for euro-starter kits
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