My wife and I have a joint account with Credit Agricole Normandy which operates a branch in town that replicates a branch of the Westminster Bank in the 1960s, including a very avuncular conseilleur who comes from Sussex and holds court in the corner office at the busiest carrefour in town, where he can see everyine who is somebody and lots more (like us) who are nobodies, but part of his huge portfolio of 650 British residents hereabout. He is happy, eager indeed, to have rdvs with us, lasting 30-45 minutes of animated conversations about all and sundry, which occasionally includes cautionary tales about past clients who came variously unstuck, and whom he tried to steer away from unwise ventures, but didn’t listen. He organises British tea-parties every year in the pre-Christmas periid which his manager attends with gritted teeth and her best English.
He is very affable but rather indiscreet, and he clearly enjoys his role as Agony Uncle, francophone Mr Fixit, and the Schadenfreude that is the daily icing on his cake. I do like him, and he has been a source of valuable help and useful "reliable’ contacts. But I’m careful what I tell him. Fortunately, he’s happy to talk.
The banking system is rather arcane, but those of us old enough to remember ink-wells and blotting paper can cope quite well, and it’s quite reassuring in an old-fashioned way, and CA-N ooerates a fairly good on-line system for uncomplicated transactions. I don’t use cheques as I would hate to fall foul of the Bank of France and have my name in their Black Book.
For international occasional very modest transactions I use Currenciesdirect.com which is very simple and efficient and to which I was recommended by SFN.