Though small in size, France remains a world economic power and can still brag about being the number one tourist destination in the world. In 2004, some 75 million visitors explored the country. Thus, it’s not surprising that France is primarily a service economy. With 72% of all jobs, the service sector is by far the largest (agriculture and fishing 4%, industry 24%).
As the sixth greatest economic power in the world after the U.S., Japan, Germany, China and the U.K., France only ranks 16th in the world in terms of GDP per capita, just barely above the European average.
In 2002, France adopted the euro, the joint European currency, used today in 12 countries in the European Union. Officially, a euro is worth 6.55957 of the old French francs, but in the last several years, the euro has had a tendency to appreciate, an event which notably has handicapped European exports in general and those of France in particular, seeing as she placed 4th in world exports in 2002.
In spite of a high rate of unemployment (7.7% in October 2006) which is difficult to combat, France remains a rich country where the poverty level has fallen by 60% in the last 30 years. The average monthly income was 1500 euros in 2006. Taking into account the relation between incomes and consumer price levels, the cost of living is comparable to other Western European countries. All the same, life in Paris can cost 10-20% more than life outside the capital.
Loaf of bread: between 70 and 90 eurocents
Sandwich: between 3 and 5 euros
Bottle of mineral water: 1 euro
Can of soda pop: 1 euro 50
One hour at a cyber-cafe: around 3 euros / hour
National daily paper: between 1 and 2 euros
Simple dinner in a restaurant: 15 euros
International telephone card: starting from 8 euros
Subway ride: 1 euro 40