PARIS As the financial crisis sends shudders round the globe, more Parisians appear to be storing their money the old-fashioned way -- in a safe.
Specialist companies in the French capital said Wednesday sales of safes were booming.
"People are clearly saying that they are scared, that they want to empty their coffers, transform their money into gold or pick up their old Napoleons (gold coins) and tuck it all away in a safe," said Hugo Gervaise, salesman at safe specialist Solon.
Bank of France Governor Christian Noyer said Tuesday there was no sign people were closing their accounts for fear of their bank collapsing.
But Solon, which has been in the safe-making trade since 1920, has seen a 30 to 40 percent rise in sales over the past three or four weeks since the collapse of U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers last month, Gervaise said.
Demand runs from a safe of 30 cm height worth a few hundred euros to the man-size, 1.8-meter tall model that sells for 13,000 euros ($17,720).
The company's new customers are also quite varied.
"It goes from CEOs to your average Joe. People from Paris, the suburbs, the provinces, from everywhere," Gervaise said.
In Paris's upmarket 16th District, another safemaker reported a similar phenomenon.
"Over the past two or three weeks there have been more requests for information and purchases of small safes at between 300 and 500 euros," said Jonathan Chazeau of Point Fort Fichet.
(Writing by Francois Murphy; Editing by Angus MacSwan)