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Q: Paris 1961 ( Answered 4 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Paris 1961
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: ross17-ga
List Price: $30.00
Posted: 21 Nov 2006 13:50 PST
Expires: 21 Dec 2006 13:50 PST
Question ID: 784595
I am writing a book set in Paris in the fall of 1961 and the winter
and spring of 1962.  I would like to find out the prices of common
items, such as cigarettes, American and French, and gasoline.  Those
two are the most important, but others such as movie theater
admissions would be helpful.

Clarification of Question by ross17-ga on 21 Nov 2006 13:54 PST
I would like to include the cost of a glass of beer at an average cafe
and a glass of comon red wine as prices I would like to know.  I would
either like the answers or equally good, a source I could go to to
find the information.
Subject: Re: Paris 1961
Answered By: omnivorous-ga on 21 Nov 2006 17:34 PST
Rated:4 out of 5 stars
Ross17 ?

There are a number of prices that are evident from an examination of
the New York Times and other sources from the period.  Having found
part of what you?re seeking, I?ll post what?s available ? even if I
don?t have gasoline prices.

I?d had some hope for finding premium gasoline and diesel costs but
the International Energy Annual only started tracking data by country
in 1994.  Another good source for foreign pricing data is the
Statistical Abstract of the United States but for the 1960s there is
little pricing data.

LeMonde, the French daily newspaper, is often a good source for
historical searches but its archive only starts in 1987.

Here?s what we?ve found:

New York Times
?DeGaulle Yields Sweeping Power at the End of Month,? (Giniger, Sept. 21, 1961)

Milk prices set at $0.08 per quart by government, an increase of 8 percent.

New York Times
?Jams on Subways Plague Paris, Too? (Oct. 22, 1961)

A ?carnet? of 10 tickets is $1.10 for first class on the subway and
$0.75 for second class.  Weekly passes reduce the cost of a ride to
about $0.05.

New York Times
?French Raise Cigarette Prices? (Oct. 29, 1961)

Under the state tobacco monopoly, French cigarettes go up between 2
and 8 cents per pack to $0.25 per pack.  American cigarettes also
rise, from 44 cents to 52 cents.

New York Times
?France Juggles Cost of Living? (Oct. 31, 1961)

National minimum wage for industrial workers, now at $0.323 per hour,
is set to rise on Dec. 1 by 2.5%

New York Times
?Living it Up is No Bargain Anywhere,? (French Government Tourist
Office, Jan. 14, 1962)

Dinner for two at a French restaurant ? including two cocktails ? is
priced at $15 (vs. $18.50 in Manhattan and $16 in London).  The meal
itself was about $3 per person, with the other $9 being drinks in an
upscale restaurant.

New York Times
?Paris Display Dramatizes Common Market?s Effects,? (Mar. 20, 1962)

Galeries Lafayette, the Paris department store, is selling women?s
raincoats for $8; refrigerators for $100; and a stainless steel
cookware set for $14.

Janet Flanner, writing in The New Yorker?s ?Letter from Paris? column
notes that in December, 1961 the price of truffles exploded from $7 to
$8 per pound to the level of $21 per pound.

The search strategy used here was:
use NY Times historical search for:
Paris + prices (results = 384 citations)

Google searches:
Paris 1961 prices
Paris 1961 gasoline prices

Also, a search of The New Yorker Magazine articles mentioning Paris in
1961 and 1962 was done.

Best regards,


Clarification of Answer by omnivorous-ga on 22 Nov 2006 03:12 PST
Ross17 --

As you may know already, exchange rates during this period were very
stable with the French franc at about $0.2041 ($1 = 4.9 New Francs). 
The new francs appeared in January, 1960 and the French would
continually make reference to prices in "francs" and "anciens francs"
for the next 10 years:
French franc

Best regards,


Request for Answer Clarification by ross17-ga on 22 Nov 2006 09:39 PST
Thank you so much. You have done a great job. One last thing.  It's
the price of a beer or red wine in an ordinary Paris cafe. Any ideas
on that?

Clarification of Answer by omnivorous-ga on 22 Nov 2006 10:14 PST
Ross17 --

I'm actually still checking some sources for beer, wine, gasoline
prices -- this time trying some print sources.  There's a great book
for U.S. prices,  called ?The Value of a Dollar,1860-2004? by Grey
House Publishing that tracks consumer prices and wages in the U.S. but
I know of no similar source for France, so we're reduced to looking at
contemporary publications.  A commonly-available French publication
that may be helpful would be Paris Match, the weekly picture magazine
similar to Life Magazine.  Finding a library with back copies of Paris
Match would be a treasure trove.

Best regards,


Clarification of Answer by omnivorous-ga on 22 Nov 2006 11:42 PST
Ross17 ?

I?ve been unable to find additional online resources but am going to
suggest several library-related strategies for checking Parisian
prices in this period.

1.	Le Monde, the daily newspaper, which is kept in microfilm form back
to 1944 at major university libraries.  This is the result for the
University of Washington?s catalog but if you?re near a major academic
library it is likely that they will have the newspaper as well:

Le Monde (microfilm)

2.	The second print source would be the French equivalent of Life
Magazine ? Paris Match, which is still actively published.  I?d hoped
that the Everett Public Library, an excellent local library for
archived magazines, might have this one but it is going to take a good
academic library

Paris Match (archived)

3.	The Reader?s Guide to Periodical Literature shows two articles of
promise from the period, one in Business Week and one in U.S. News &
World Report.  Again, it will be necessary to find a library with
these two issues on microfilm:

Business Week
?France: Inflation May Spoil the Boom,? (Jan. 13, 1962)

U.S. News & World Report
?Coming: Biggest Boom in Europe?? (Sept. 3, 1962)

4.	Finally, many good regional libraries have the Business Periodical
Index.  It is similar to the Reader?s Guide ? but covers the Wall
Street Journal and other leading business publications.  It would be
another place in which one could research prices in Paris and France
during the period.

Best regards,

ross17-ga rated this answer:4 out of 5 stars

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