Adventures and misadventures in France.

Archive for July, 2014

Liberté, Egalité, Sécurité

In today’s episode of Kim vs. France, we examine some challenges of highly-secure European banking. As I’ve mentioned before, Europe is eons ahead of American credit cards and banking systems. And while I’m sure that keeping money safe from hackers and digital robbers is important, have they gone too far?

Last night, I attempted to pay my rent by wire transfer. With online access, the process seemed fairly simple. I logged in with an assigned 12-digit numerical code and 6-digit password. To even enter the wire information, the site requested a secret code from a key card the bank sent by mail. Simple enough.

After entering the account information, I needed to enter ANOTHER code they provided by phone to make the transfer. So I waited for a call or text, with no luck. As it turns out, the account is linked to my office phone. I tried to enter my cell phone instead, but a new number can’t be validated without ANOTHER code that the bank sent by mail a couple months ago. And THAT code is no longer valid.

This morning I tried the entire process again at work, and received the call with the code. An automated voice began barking numbers. Not slowly or digit-by-digit to ensure that it could be understood, but rapidly in French counting style :

SIXTY-FIFTEENTWENTYTWOEIGHTY-ELEVEN*click*

What was that? Sixty-five twenty-two eighty? In France, numbers are always read in two-digit sets. There is no translation for seventy, eighty, or ninety. They substitute with basic arithmatic instead :

70 = sixty-ten           80 = four-twenties           90 = four-twenties-ten

Wait, what? Four-twenties-ten? Yes. It comes from Basque and was adopted by the Gauls and then the French. This has bothered me since they taught us to count in seventh grade French class.

It took several frustrating tries to realize that the code wasn’t 60-15-22-80-11, but 75-22-91.

Next time I’ll just pay in cash.

Whoops…

 

Three months without a single post? My bad. As the days grew longer here, the Loire was hit with a surprisingly mild and warm spring/early summer, offering plenty of opportunities for activities. In April, we took a few weekend excursions not far from home. In May, I hopped back to the US for my brother’s college graduation and quick stops in Washington DC and Boston. June was the beginning of French barbecue season, and this weekend Max and I are headed to the first of three summer weddings for various cousins. We’ll be arriving at the mairie (town hall) for a 10 AM civil ceremony, then it’s off to the church and an entire afternoon, evening, night, and then morning of food, dancing, and shenanigans.

This month, not only is my sister visiting France, but we’re headed to Iceland! At this time of year, the sun never fully sets, so we’ll be filling the days with hikes, Icelandic horses, exploring Reykjavik, and puffin-hunting.

Happy Independence Day!

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