I don’t normally recommend coming to Paris with money to exchange if you can help it, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. I’ve listed some exchange bureaus in the touristy areas of Paris (you can NOT exchange money in local banks), but their rates are pretty horrible.
Yesterday someone I met had $2000 to exchange into euros. The official rate was €0.74. The agency at Rue de Rivoli (near BHV) was paying €0.65 plus tacking on a 4% commission (BTW, there is always commission, it’s just sometimes hidden in the exchange rate).
She may have been able to bargain on the commission if she hadn’t given up her $2000 all at once, but I did manage to talk the jerk at the desk into giving her smaller bills (he tried to give her two 500 euro bills, which no one in Paris will accept). After everything, she got just over €1200. Not great.
When I got home, I checked with a few other change bureaus, including the one in Chinatown I usually use, and all of them would have saved her €200. It pays to look these places up before arriving if you know you’ll have cash, or to call around to find out what the rates are at different bureaus. Here are three recommendations (anyone want to add to this?):
MultiChange Paris (8 agencies in Paris, including ones open daily at Place Vendôme, Arc de Triomphe, and the Marché aux Puces St Ouen). You can also order your currency online.
Puccini SARL (the one I use in Chinatown at 20 ave de Choisy, 13th, M° Porte de Choisy, tel 01 45 83 58 00).
Yes Change (1 Rue Rouget de Lisle, 1st, M° Concord or Tuileries, tel 01 42 60 00 35; make sure you tell them at the bureau that you want the “Yes Change” rate from their website)