The two tourists, aged 29 and 30 had been staying in a hotel in Bagnolet, in the Seine-Saint-Denis suburb of the French capital.
When the time came to settle their bill, hotel management ended up calling the police. The pair hadn’t run out without paying, though. Their offence was attempting to use a massive pile of €1 coins as payment.
After reluctantly accepting 70 one-euro coins for the first night’s stay, the establishment’s owners became suspicious when the Chinese visitors attempted the same method of payment for their second night, last Sunday.
Alerted by the hotel’s management, local police arrested the tourists last Monday.
“They were taken into custody by BRIF [the financial investigation unit of the Judicial Police],” a source told Le Parisien on Monday.
“Investigators suspected they were dealing with a case of forged currency,” the source added.
When they searched the tourists’ hotel room, they found no fewer than 3,000 one-euro coins secreted around the place, and a further 700 were discovered on the person of one of the suspects.
In the end, however, investigators verified that the money was authentic, and the Chinese visitors were released from custody.
For their part, the two told a representative from the Paris Mint that they had acquired the coins from an unusual source back home.
“They said they had bought all the coins from scrapyard dealers in China,” the Paris Mint official told Le Parisien.
“When cars owned by Europeans, and destined for scrap metal, get sent to China to be recycled, the junkyard owners often collect dozens of euro coins from each vehicle,” the source added.