foreign-currencyOne of the biggest Hints to know in a foreign country, not just France, Never leave the airport without some local money.  Not too much because the exchange rate at the airport is way too high usually,  BUT you do Not want to get in a rental car and take off without any local cash.

Case in point:  We arrive our first day to Paris, getting our rental car and heading to drive to the Champagne Region.  After a crazy flight, crazy depart from the airport (we drove around twice before finally figuring out what/where the Exit sign was; seeing how it was in French we didn’t know what Exit was!

(Sortie by the way, (Exit)  is the sign you are looking for)

We hopped on the motorway only to discover it was a toll road.  We are whizzing along feeling all smug and happy we had figured out how to rent/drive/leave the airport and get to our destination on our own UNTIL……

The toll booth!  UnManned toll booths that is!  And all in French!  No clue what to do, out on a lonely stretch of motorway, with no one there but us (thank goodness hindsight) and we had No cash at all except American money!

Fat lot of good that will do you in Europe. (not just at toll booths but anywhere in Europe – NO they do Not want American monies so don’t bring much)

ok sorry back to the toll booth:  Having no idea what to do, we sat reading the signs on the booth like somehow we would all the sudden read and understand French!   Nope that doesn’t work;  we finally figured out the little tiny pictures were a diagram of a credit card.  Victory, they take credit cards!

We stick our American Visa into the slot and hold our breaths, Hoping it will work.   We are in the middle of nowhere it felt like, green grassy fields everywhere your eyes look but no people anywhere and a giant bar across the toll road, no way around it.    Viola, it worked!   woohooo Victory as the bar lifts up and the box returns our credit card to us.

So, either be sure to have money OR be sure you have a credit card!  Seriously though, get at least $20-$40 of local money no matter where you go, before you leave the airport:  taxis/trains/toll booths or cafe, they won’t take American monies so be Prepared, plan ahead.