Those who intend to visit New Caledonia will need to get hold of the CFP franc as this is the official currency used in that country. It goes by several names too, although this is really the official one. However you might also hear it referred to as the French Pacific franc, the franc pacifique in French, and also simply the franc. The letters actually stand for Change Franc Pacifique, which in turn can be translated into Pacific Franc Exchange. We don’t think we have ever come across a currency that is referred to by this many names, all of which are correct!
What coins and notes are available for this currency?
As you might well expect, this currency is divided into 100 centimes, just as the French franc used to be. However you won’t actually find any coins in circulation now that are denominated as centimes. All those in use are francs, so you can rest easy and look forward to an easier journey in determining which coins are which.
There are quite a few coins in use nowadays. These go from the one franc coin and move through the 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 franc coins before finishing with the 100 franc coin. You can also make good use of four banknotes, which are the 500, 1,000, 5,000 and 10,000 franc notes.
From past to present – the history of the New Caledonian CFP franc
The CFP franc has been used since the mid-Forties. New Caledonia is one of three countries that use it; the other two are French Polynesia and Wallis and Futuna. All three are overseas ‘collectivities d’outre-mer’ of France. This is basically along the same lines as a British overseas territory. This association with France is also the reason why these countries use a version of the franc. The reason why the currency was created in the first place was down to the poor performance of the French franc following on from World War II.
How to get hold of the New Caledonian CFP franc
This is one of those currencies that is pretty hard to find until you reach your destination. You may not be able to get it from a bureau de change no matter where you look, even online. However this doesn’t have to be a major problem – at least not when you find out you can often use New Zealand or Australian dollars in the country without any issue. So you might want to stock up on one or other of these before you go.
You can also use traveller’s cheques in New Caledonia, but if you intend to take these with you, make sure you get them in euros rather than anything else. This is because the franc is tied to the value of the euro, so it generally means you will get a better deal on your cash than you might otherwise do. You will still be charged but at least you can minimise the charges.
It will also be good to know you can get more of the local currency via cash machines. They are not found all across the country but you shouldn’t have a problem in Noumea (read on to find out more about Noumea below). If you want to pay by using a credit or debit card you shouldn’t have any problem doing this either. As you can see, while it may be difficult to get the currency at home, you can do enough to ensure you won’t be short of cash when you arrive.
How to find out the latest exchange rate between your home currency and the New Caledonian CFP franc
This is pretty easy to do if you have access to a reliable currency converter. Make sure you use the ISO code to find the franc quickly and easily; the code you need is XPF. Once you type this in it should immediately go to the franc you need. You can then put your own currency in to get the latest exchange rate. Obviously you might want to put your currency first and then the franc in order to see how much you can get for your money. Bear in mind the information you get won’t include any fees you might be charged for exchanging your money at a bureau de change or anywhere else.
Most people would agree it is a good idea to check out the history and current situation of a country before you choose to actually visit. To this end you can find out what the current situation is in New Caledonia simply by visiting the UK government’s official website at https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/new-caledonia. This page leads you to all the pertinent information you will need as such.
Travelling safely with the New Caledonian CFP franc
When compared to some other countries and territories around the world, New Caledonia is actually a very safe place to be. Terrorism isn’t really a major threat here, although of course as we mentioned above it is best to check the current situation if you are thinking of going there, in case anything changes.
It is also a country that is relatively safe in terms of crime. Most of the travellers who go there don’t have any trouble at all, although of course it still remains a sensible decision to ensure you don’t present an enticing target. To this end you should make sure you don’t make a show of having lots of cash or valuables on your person. While crime is at a fairly low level there are still cases where crimes occur. You don’t want to increase the chances of someone choosing you as their target. If you can book into a nice hotel that provides you with the use of a safe, this can be a good bet too. It means you can safely stow your passport and other valuables away out of sight when you are not in need of them. Make sure you also have a separate note of any traveller’s cheques you are using, in case you have to replace them.
Where to spend your francs in New Caledonia – and what to spend them on
Well firstly we should perhaps discover where New Caledonia is in the world. Since you can use Australian dollars there you might guess it is somewhere near Australia – and you wouldn’t be far wrong. While it is not exactly on the doorstep, so to speak, it is out to the east of the country, over 700 miles away. You’ll find it in the south-western portion of the Pacific Ocean. You might guess that New Caledonia is an island, and you would be partly right, but actually it is an archipelago. The main island is long and thin, and there are several other smaller islands dotted around the southern and eastern shorelines of the main one, albeit some distance away.
We mentioned Noumea previously and if you hadn’t yet guessed, it is the capital of New Caledonia. It can be found on the south-western coastline of the main island, which is known by the name of Grande Terre. You will notice the French influence in many of the names in this archipelago. Noumea boasts a city centre and also a harbour, so if you arrive on a cruise or by some other boat, this is where you will glimpse your first proper view of Noumea.
As always one of the best ways to find out more about a country you have just arrived in is to visit the local museum. The Musee de Nouvelle-Caledonie (literally the Museum of New Caledonia) can be found in Noumea. There are many exhibits here and they all have a story to tell about the islands and their history. It is not open all week so do check the latest times before you visit.
Another popular sight is accessible from Noumea but you will have to take a boat out to a nearby island in order to see it up close. This is the Amedee lighthouse that you can find on the island of the same name. There is a jetty leading up to the beach here, beyond which the lighthouse stands. As such it is well worth a visit because you can enjoy the beach setting too.
If you want to find out more about the world beneath the waves, why not visit the local aquarium too? It boasts many different areas for you to see and visit, including the coastal zone, the lagoons and the ocean depths. As such you can see which creatures lurk in each region and learn lots more about them while you are there. It is a great day out especially if you have kids with you.
New Caledonia may not have been familiar to you at all before you started reading this article. We have barely scratched the surface of all it has to offer, and yet it provides you with a vast number of appealing attractions to see far beyond those we have mentioned here. If you are planning a holiday that is a little different from anywhere you may have seen before, perhaps New Caledonia is the new place worth trying.