When traveling to Paris, your best option for exchanging US dollars to euros, the currency used in Paris, is to use your ATM card to automatically withdraw money from your bank account. Using your ATM card, you'll receive the best exchange rate, the rate that banks charge each other, and you won't pay a commission for the transaction. Be aware that you may be charged a fee for using an ATM that isn't affiliated with your bank. Check with your bank for information about ATM fees before using your ATM card in Paris. Unfortunately, there may be situations where you need to exchange your physical US dollars for euros. In these case, you'll need to visit an exchange bureau. Exchange bureaus are located in airports, train stations, and near major Paris tourist attractions, such as rue de Rivoli near the Louvre museum and on the Champs-Elysees.
Look at the exchange rate board posted by law outside the currency exchange bureau. Find the daily exchange rates for dollars into euros. Look for an exchange where the difference or spread between buy and sell is around 5 percent.
Five percent is a typical spread for a currency exchange bureau. If the spread is above 5 percent, find another place to exchange you funds. Don't worry about walking away if you don't think the exchange rate is fair. There are dozens of currency exchange bureaus across Paris with differing rates depending on location. For a list, visit the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau website.
Wait in line for a teller at the currency exchange window. Before proceeding with any transaction, ask for the commission rate. This rate will very depending on whether you are exchanging dollars in cash or using traveler's checks. The commission may range from 4 percent to 8 percent.
If the commission rate is acceptable to you, continue with the transaction. If not, find another currency exchange bureau that may have a lower commission structure.
Place your dollars or traveler's checks in the drawer in front of the teller's window. Since the commission rate is lower for large amounts, such as thousands of dollars, plan to exchange all your dollars for euros in one transaction.
Ask for small euro bills in exchange for dollars. Many Parisian currency exchange bureaus will give you 500 euro bills in exchange for your dollars. These large bills are not accepted in some cafes, restaurants and shops. Ask for 100 euro bills or smaller.
Count your money and examine your receipt before you leave the teller's window. Make sure that the exchange rate is the same as the posted rate on the board and that the commission is correct. If there are any discrepancies, inform the teller or ask to speak to the manager. Most Parisian currency exchange bureaus employ English speakers.