On your next trip to France, instead of pulling out euros to pay for your baguette at the local boulangerie, you could pay with Abeilles and no one would question you.
That’s just one of some 40 currencies besides the euro that are accepted in France. (According to Lucas Rochette-Berlon, who cofounded the group Une monnaie pour Paris, in 2016 there were about 60 local currencies.) It’s not a phenomenon unique to France. Around the world, there are hundreds of these complementary currencies.
Local currencies debuted in France in 2010 after the financial crisis as a way to support local economies, since local currencies can only be used in a certain town or area. (Abeilles can only be used in Villeneuve-sur-Lot, Occitans in Pézenas, Languedoc-Roussillon, etc.) Not every store in a town will accept the local currency. Only stores where using the local currency will contribute to the immediate town and surrounding area will accept the currency. So your boulanger will gladly take your Occitans because the bread was made using wheat grown in the area by local farmers, but the Carrefour will not accept that currency.
Some currencies are printed on paper and others are paperless to cut costs. The exchange rate is always one euro to one local currency.
To learn more about local currencies in France and the new Paris currency, la pêche, check out the video below.