Some In France Want To Say Au Revoir To The Euro

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France is the latest country to get swept up in the European debt crisis, with market rumors that the country might lose its AAA credit rating. How the French are reacting to concerns about the financial crisis and the future of the Euro?


France is the latest country to get swept up in the European debt crisis. There are rumors the country could lose its triple A credit rating. The French economy is suffering from dismal growth figures. And yet, despite its own struggles, France may still be asked to offer a helping hand to its European neighbors who are in worse shape.

NPR's Jackie Northam traveled to Deauville in Normandy to hear what the French are saying about this crisis unfolding around them.

JACKIE NORTHAM: There's a deliciously salty tang in the air if you're near a fish market in the center of Deauville, a seaside resort along France's northwest coast. A long cue of shoppers look over a succulent array of fresh cut fish, oysters, shrimp, and lobsters.

(Soundbite of people speaking in French language)

NORTHAM: Deauville caters to many up market travelers, but there's also a solid base of blue collar workers and middle-class retirees here. It's as good as place as any to try to get a sense of how the French view the European debt crises.

Despite the beautiful summer day, pessimism hangs over the town.

(Soundbite of people speaking French)

Jackie Beaumont(ph) a 57-year-old vegetable seller at the market said he's felt the effects of the downturn in the economy for months. He says prices continue to go up.

Mr. JACKIE BEAUMONT (Through Translator): Now everyone is buying less. Before, they were buying vegetables by the kilo. Now it's one tomato, two carrots, one potato. They buy piece by piece.

NORTHAM: Beaumont, a lifelong resident of Deauville, says things were better when France had its own currency, the franc. Being part of the eurozone and using the common currency makes everything more expensive he says. Like many others in this market, Beaumont resents that France is having to bail out countries like Greece, Italy, and Spain. He says soon he won't be able to afford to live in France. He wants to move to Asia.

Mr. BEAUMONT (Through Translator): I will be retiring soon. I'm going to leave France. I'm going to live in a country without the euro.

Mr. SAVAN(ph) MONUET(ph): (Speaking in French language)

NORTHAM: Savan Monuet sells French sausage and cheeses at the market. He's worried about the economy, but he doesn't think things are as bad as they were a few years ago. Despite the growing debt crisis, the tall, barrel-chested vendor, doesn't think France should consider dropping the Euro.

Mr. MONUET: (Through Translator) Never. Never. I believe in the euro, and I think it's too late to leave it. What I don't like is every country in the eurozone has its own financial system. We need to change that.

(Soundbite of Seagulls)

NORTHAM: Across town, sleek luxury yachts and sailboats are moored at the Deauville Marina. Paul Qaulivous(ph) sits at the back of his 35-foot sailboat, smoking a pipe and letting loose on his opinions about the European debt crisis. He says it's extremely serious.

Mr. PAUL QAULIVOUS: It's new crazy - it's a new type of crazy. I suppose we are new mothers who have no experience. Each day we have to manage a new response to a new problem. It's my opinion. It is very, very difficult.

NORTHAM: Qaulivous worries about France's battered economy, but says the chances of it introducing an austerity program, or even rolling back the country's high standard of social services to put its books in order, is unlikely, but necessary.

Mr. QAULIVOUS: No. No. No. No. We don't accept such (unintelligible), but it's compulsory. It's a products(ph). It's a French products(ph).

NORTHAM: Most of all, Qaulivous worries that the leaders of France, Germany, or the U.S. have the ability or the skills to resolve the crisis.

Jackie Northam, NPR News.

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