Something to Declare

THE COLUMN THAT SAVES YOU MONEY

Currency of the week

The CFA franc

The euro is hardly a new concept. In Francophone Africa, the CFA franc has been performing splendidly as a single currency for years. With 13 countries signed up, it outclasses the euro. And another advantage: notes and coins are already in circulation.

Any traveller to West or Central Africa will know that in the Francophone area, only French francs or the local variety - whose initials stand for Communaute Financielle Africaine - will do nicely. Handily, the CFA franc is pegged at a rate of 100 to the French franc. Even more handily, this is twice the rate that it was five years ago, meaning that life for the traveller is much cheaper than it was.

Just one hiccup; there are in fact two CFA francs, one for the western area and the other for Central Africa. The Banque Centrale des Etats de l'Afrique de l'Ouest issues francs for Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, Mali, Senegal and Togo, while its central African counterpart prints and mints for Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Guinea-Bissau. In theory, these are exchangeable at face value, but sometimes it can be a bit of a struggle.

Just one thought: if two noughts could be knocked off the CFA franc, or it could be renamed the CFA centime, it would match the value of the French franc exactly. But since France's currency is due to expire in a couple of years, once the euro is in full effect, it's probably not worth the bother.

Bargain of the week

One of many Greek islands, from Corfu to Crete, for not a lot more than the cost of a charter

For the first time ever, the week's best travel bargain is a deal on Olympic Airways. As has been reported on this page, the Greek national carrier is in a mess and has brought in British Airways to try to turn it around. The new management is already having an effect, because the airline is now offering a fare of pounds 109 one way from London via Athens to any Greek island, and pounds 210 for the round trip. This represents a saving of around one-quarter of the previous fare, and is available for travel between now and the end of October; in November, the fares fall to pounds 99 single/pounds 186 return.

The deal is available direct from Olympic (0171-409 3400) or through travel agents. One word of warning: the phone lines are very busy, and you could find yourself listening to a bouzouki version of "Never on Sunday" for an annoyingly long time.

Neat idea of the week

Taxi plus train for less than the cost of the rail ticket alone

Anyone living within 10 miles of the main rail line north of London, between St Albans and Bedford, can dispense with that traditional minicab or having to use overpriced parking when using Gatwick airport.

A new ticket called "RoundRider" gives you a taxi from your home to the nearest rail station, a return train ticket to Gatwick and a taxi back home again - for pounds 60 for four people.

If, instead, you just fancy a day at the seaside in Brighton, then a group of four people will pay just pounds 10 each for the taxi and train experience - a lot less than the normal rail fare alone. Call the "Outback integrated transport line" on 0800 389 5577.

Warning of the week

The limit that British Airways Holidays places on compensation if your trip happens to go wrong:

"The maximum amount of compensation we will consider paying is limited to a refund of the cost of your holiday, a refund of any directly attributable expenses, and a daily sum of pounds 25 per person. This maximum applies where everything has gone wrong and you have obtained no enjoyment whatsoever from your holiday. In any other situation, we will pay you a proportion of the maximum at our discretion."

Reminder of the week Thousands of gap year travellers are returning to Britain to start college. Many of them signed up for The Independent/ Boots Gap Year Travel Cover competition, in which the first prize is pounds 2,000. To stand a chance of winning, participants must send in their entries to arrive before 17 September 1999.

The address for entries is Freepost, PO Box 193, Nottingham NG3 1BR. Anyone beginning their gap year now can get details of the special Travel Cover policy from any branch of Boots.

Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Sport
Yaya Touré has defended his posturing over his future at Manchester City
Voices
Spectators photograph the Tour de France riders as they make their way through the Yorkshire countryside
voicesHoward Jacobson: Line the streets for a cycling race? You might just as well watch a swarm of wasps
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Life and Style
lifeHere's one answer to an inquisitive Reddit user's question
News
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
News
Detail of the dress made entirely of loom bands
news
Life and Style
beauty
Sport
There were mass celebrations across Argentina as the country's national team reached their first World Cup final for 24 years
transfersOne of the men to suffer cardiac arrest was 16 years old
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Sport
German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
News
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Sport
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Sport
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Sport
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
News
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
people
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

    C# Integration Developer (.NET, Tibco EMS, SQL 2008/2012, XML)

    £60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...

    Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

    £75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

    Trade Desk Specialist (FIX, Linux, Windows, Network Security)

    £60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Trade Desk Specialist (FIX, Linux, Windows...

    Day In a Page

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
    Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

    A writer spends a night on the streets

    Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
    Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
    Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

    Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

    Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
    Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

    Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

    This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
    Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

    Why did we stop eating whelks?

    Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
    10 best women's sunglasses

    In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

    From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice