French national pawnbroker Crédit Municipal de Paris opened its doors to wine last week, taking in, to date, EUR60,000 (US$93,517) worth of liquid assets and lending out half that amount.

"We're surprised to see how many people are doing this," said chief executive Bernard Candiard.

The decision to allow wine as collateral was taken because it was a valuable and popular asset among Parisians, with the added advantage of being more discreet than paintings, jewellery or fur coats, Candiard added.

Among clients who have already taken advantage of the offer is a doctor who has pawned EUR17,000 worth of wine, including a bottle of 1961 Petrus.

Of 19 Crédit Municipal pawnbrokers in France, the Paris office is the first to take in wine, although Candiard said the Bordeaux office is also considering a similar move.