Dorothée is drinking coffee on a terrace in Menen (Belgium), this Friday, December 31, 2021. This Belgian takes out her wallet, checks the coins in one of the pockets and takes out a few euros to pay her due. Nothing to do with 2001, the last year with another currency in circulation. “At that time I had two purses: one for Belgian francs, another for French francs. And we had a little machine to calculate what to find the Belgian franc in French franc. On a galley“, laughs the Belgian. This Saturday, January 1, 2022, will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the single currency. The end of a puzzle for many cross-border workers in Nord-Pas-de-Calais.
Much longer memories of checkout than today
In front of Dorothée, her friend Martine sips a coffee, with memories of 20 years ago. “You had to calculate the prices because your prices in supermarkets in France are much cheaper than with us in Belgium. So you had to think about everything“. So much so that this situation has caused him some headaches in the past:”When I got home I said phew! Mainly by looseness“, laughs today the sexagenarian.
“You had to calculate the prices, think of everything. When I got home, I was hissing loosely“, says Martine, a Belgian.
So, to avoid that, the Belgian had a tip when she went to take her lessons on the other side of the border.. “I asked a cashier to convert it into francs. I handed her my wallet and she took what she needed to settle all that,” smiles the one who finishes her coffee on the terrace. On the contrary, another of her compatriots was more in phase: “I also had two wallets for the two currencies. But we all used to convert», She explains.
Difficulties also when the euro arrived
The euro is put into circulation from January 1, 2002. A revolution for French people, and Belgians who had previously made the transaction. But it took several months to adjust. “I ask a friend to help me with the conversion. Then I sat down at my desk, with my tickets around me, like a little girl who has to learn a lesson, then I patiently performed the operation“, says Martine.”It took me several weeks to adapt. Even today, some are struggling since they are still dealing with the Belgian franc.“