When I use cash in France (why you should have euros or change on hand).
Here is a short list of when I use cash in France, plus a few ATM tips at the bottom.
° WC's. Water closets (or toilets) are sometimes fee-based to access because they have full-time attendants keeping the spaces clean. You'll often find this at events, fairs, train stations, or pay-for-use rural locations.
° Tipping. While not required in France, I occasionally tip if the service is above standard.
° Street markets, vide greniers & marchés. Vendors prefer to be paid in cash - some do not accept credit cards.
° Boulangeries. I prefer to pay in coins if I am just running into a bakery for a baguette. Also, due to high credit card processing rates, many merchants have a minimum amount for card use.
TIPS for using ATMs (especially in Paris).
° Go inside. Please do not use the street side ATMs, as they are often subject to scams like card readers or pickpockets.
° La Poste. Search for the nearest "La Poste" (the post office) on your favorite phone app. Monday through Friday, and Saturday mornings, you can safely use the post office ATM located inside. Why does the post office in France have an ATM? Because, among MANY other programs, they also offer banking services.
I always feel safest here, under the watchful eye of a postal representative.
° Banks. Most banks offer ATMs just inside their front door. Use those as a Plan B but avoid using their street-side machines.
Do I suggest using the airport ATM? Not necessarily. By the time you land, it's just another task you'll have to accomplish when you're tired, jet lagged, trying to juggle luggage, and finding the taxi stand.
Getting cash right away is low priority, as most of France accepts bank cards. Just relax - you'll find an ATM soon enough. You're in France! Bienvenue!
Wishing all of you a bon dimanche,