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Franc farewell: France bids adieu to old currency

Old French franc notes can be exchanged for euros at the Bank of France until the end of Friday

Six centuries after the first one was minted and a decade after they went out of circulation, the last French francs are being exchanged for euros, severing France's final link to its former national currency.

The Banque de France set a deadline of the close of business Friday for French savers to exchange whatever leftover franc notes they've kept socked away in drawers or under mattresses, whether held onto intentionally as souvenirs or simply forgotten about.

The euro replaced the franc in wallets and purses in January 2002, but the central bank has continued to accept francs in exchange for euros until now.

The franc's end comes as the euro suffers the worst crisis since its creation, and the once-taboo question of a eurozone break-up is now front page fodder.

A report in London's Daily Telegraph said large lines formed outside banks as customers carrying plastic bags full of old notes waited to exchange old money.

The report said there were an estimated 50m franc notes still in circulation at the end of last year. The French Government predicts that €100m worth of these notes - around a fifth - will not be exchanged, having been lost or squirrelled away as souvenirs.

The Associated Press and msnbc.com staff contributed to this report.

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