When France wanted its francs to stay in France

There are worse places to be in the summer than France -- not that French citizens had much choice about that in 1983.

Socialist government's austerity program set strict limits on spending on foreign travel in 1983

Keeping francs in France

39 years ago
In 1983, the French government set limits on how much its citizens could spend outside the country. 1:34

There are worse places to be in the summer than France. 

But a lot of French citizens didn't have much choice in the matter back in 1983.

That's because their government had set limits on how much money they could spend on travelling outside the country, which made it hard to go abroad for a vacation.

"The Champs-Élysées is usually full of foreign tourists, but this year, foreigners will have to fight with the French for places in the cafes of Paris," the CBC's David Bazay said, when explaining the situation on The National on March 25, 1983.

"The socialist government's tough austerity program virtually forces the French to take their holidays at home."

More taxes, less spending

Austerity measures had set strict limits on how much French citizens could spend outside the country, which made it difficult for them to vacation outside of France in 1983. (The National/CBC Archives)

Bazay said the French weren't allowed to spend more than 2,000 francs outside the country in a given year — or less than $350, which would be less than $850 today.

The Globe and Mail ran a report from Reuters that provided details on how the French government planned to enforce such controls. Checks at the border were one such measure, while another was the recording of currency transactions.

And as part of broader austerity measures, the French government had also imposed some $12 billion in new taxes and various charges, according to Bazay.

French citizens were also going to be paying more for tobacco, wine, and gas, as well as for electricity and telephone services. 

"The French Socialists came to power promising to get France out of the recession, without an austerity program," said Bazay.

"But their generous experiment with economic expansion has been a costly failure."

The French government's limits on what citizens could spend travelling outside of France were going to make it hard for anyone to take a trip abroad. (The National/CBC Archives)