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Wednesday, 16 May, 2001, 20:24 GMT 21:24 UK
Euro ousts franc on French forecourts
Paris Esso station
No francs, merci
Two French service stations have become the first in Europe to switch to displaying their prices only in euros, in preparation for the currency's introduction on 1 January 2002.

Prices for petrol, goods and services at the BP and Esso service stations, both in the Paris region, are given in the single European currency.

They have signs on their petrol pumps warning motorists of the change and conversion tables to enable them to work out the equivalent price in French francs. One euro is worth around 6.56 French francs.

Nasty euro surprise

But some customers at the BP service station in Le Pecq, in the Yvelines department west of Paris, got a nasty surprise when they went to pay.

BP station
Customers are warned at the pumps of the change

French TF1 television showed one elderly customer asking to pay for his 15 francs of petrol, only to be told: "It isn't 15 francs, monsieur. It's 15 euros (around 100 francs)."

The BP station was selling unleaded petrol at 1.21 euros (about 1.05 US dollars) per litre, with leaded selling at 1.28 euros and diesel at 0.91 euros.

I think that it's not a bad idea to get people ready

Petrol station customer

Good idea

However, a customer at the Esso station told the television station that he thought the change would get people used to the idea of using euros.

"I think that it's not a bad idea to get people, who perhaps aren't thinking about it, ready," he said. "In my opinion it's going well," he added.

Esso's prices in euros
Leaded petrol costs 1.2 euros a litre in the Esso garage

The Esso station was charging 1.11 and 1.10 euros for different grades of unleaded petrol, 1.2 euros for leaded and 0.86 euros for diesel.

The television station said that generally customers seemed to have reacted well to the change. They still have the choice of paying in euros or francs with a cheque or banker's card at both stations.

It added that by the autumn, France's 17,000 service stations would all have switched to using euros.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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