Opening a French bank account is necessary for the housing allowance and health reimbursements, even if you stay for one semester.
Even though it is sometimes possible to organise automatic bank transfers for paying rent, it is, however, essential to open a current account in France for various formalities. There are several banks near the UCP. You are free to choose the bank you prefer.
Banks are usually open up from 9.00am to 12.00am and from 14.00pm until 17.30pm. They are always closed during lunchtime, on Sundays and bank holidays. Some banks are also closed on Monday so better plan ahead.
The main bank agencies in Cergy are located on the main square not far from the RER train station and within proximity of the shopping centre.
The Euro (€ or EUR) is the official currency of France and 18 other member states of the European Union since 2002. 1 Euro is equivalent to 100 cents.
Means of payment
We recommend you to always have a little bit of cash with you in case credit cards are not accepted (for example to pay for a taxi, buy public transport tickets, buy a “baguette”, etc). The Euro currency is represented by coins (0.01, 0.02, 0.05, 0.10, 0.20, 0.50, 1 and 2 Euros) and bank notes (5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 Euros).
Credit cards VISA, AMERICAN EXPRESS, MASTERCARD and EUROCARD are accepted almost everywhere in France. You can withdraw money with your debit card from ATMs or pay with credit cards in most of the shops. You will have to key in your 4-digit pin code when paying with a French card.
It is very common in France to use a chequebook rather than credit cards and cash, but they are not accepted everywhere.
The Western Union system can be used to receive or send cash in every bank or post office.
Students can bring travellers cheques in Euros or in other currencies such as US dollars, UK pounds, etc. However, note that you cannot pay with them in France. You will have to change your travellers cheques into Euros in a French bank (with bank charges).
Remember to have enough money (cash and/or the possibility to withdraw money with your credit card) available for your arrival in France to deal with your first expenses (ex: paying the shuttle, the public transport fare, buy food, pay the housing deposit and insurance, the healthcare insurance…) as it can take up to three weeks to obtain a French credit card when you open a bank account in France.
To exchange money we recommend you to go in the national banks or to withdraw money with your credit card to have the best rates.