A Spotlight on the Monnaie de Paris (Paris Mint)

A Spotlight on the Monnaie de Paris (Paris Mint)

The Monnaie de Paris, or the Mint of Paris, which is France’s official national mint, is the world’s oldest continuously operated minting facility.

The Paris Mint: 1156 years of history

The mint was founded by Charles the Bald, one of Charlemagne's successors, who decreed with the Edict of Pistres in 864, creating a coining workshop attached to the French crown. This decree made the facility in Paris the main operation, although there was also a network of provincial mints.

Charles the Bald used the reorganization of minting in France after the Treaty of Verdun in 843 to re-establish his country's territorial unity.

Since 1796 the Paris Mint has been attached to the French Ministry of the economy as a government-owned institution.  

Today the mint has two facilities – one in Paris and one in Pessac – which produce all of France's circulating, bullion, and numismatic coinage, as well as medals on demand for various customers, coins for other countries. The mint also maintains a large coinage museum.

In 1958 it was determined that the facility in Paris could not keep up with the nation's growing coin needs, so a new facility was built at Pessac in Gironde, which opened in September 1973.  

Although all stages of the industrial process were initially carried out at the Pessac site, it now handles just the cutting and burnishing of the planchets and the core activities of the minter's trade: engraving, coining, and packaging.

Today, Pessac still makes the euro coins used in France, as well as coins for other countries in the eurozone, such as Malta, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Monaco, Andorra, and many others outside the eurozone.

Paris Mint Facts and Figures

The Paris site has 500 employees, while the Pessac facility has 200 employees. The size of the Paris Mint is one hectare in the 6th arrondissement (or section) of Paris. The Paris Mint produces 100,000 medals, 120,000 gold coins, and 130,000 decorations (such as the famous Legion of Honor awards) each year.

The Pessac site has 98,000 square meters of land. The site produces 1.5 billion coins per year and 850 per minute using 29 different coin presses. This site has made coins for 42 countries since 2011.

On January 1, 2007, the mint became a public industrial and commercial establishment. Since then, in addition to its mandate to produce circulating coinage and coins of artistic value, the mint has also been charged with conserving, protecting, and presenting to the public its historic collections. The mint has also been charged with showcasing the historic built heritage of which it is the custodian and preserving, developing, and passing its artistic skills and technical expertise, which are legendary.

In 2011 the mint began a major renovation designed to make the facility more accessible to visitors, including a refurbishment of the mint's museum, which reopened in 2017.

Monnaie de ParisMonnaie de Paris

French Coins

French coins issued over the past 1200 years are well-known for the high quality of their designs and engraving. Many modern French coins have won awards such as the prestigious annual Krause Coin of the Year awards. This mint consistently receives many nominations for its beautiful and innovative coins. For example, for the recently announced 2021 nominations for coins issued in 2019, it was the only mint that received nominations in 8 of 10 categories for coins, such as its 2019 Eiffel Tower, Mona Lisa, and Berlin Wall issues.

French CoinsFrench Coins

France's original currency was the livre, which means book in France. The livre was first struck in gold in 1360 to note the release of Charles II by the English, who had been captured at the Battle of Poitiers. The livre later served as the basis for the British pound, Italian lira, and other currencies.

In 1795 the livre was officially replaced with the franc, which was converted at the rate of 81 livres to 80 francs, and a silver franc weighed 5 grams.

French gold coins include the popular Rooster 10 and 20-Franc coins issued from 1898 until the start of World War I in 1914. Today they remain among the most popular gold bullion coins with stackers and collectors. They feature a classic design with an obverse showing Marianne, the mother of France, and a reverse with a Gallic rooster that was initially a religious symbol but eventually came to represent France itself and pride in its legendary culture.

The franc remained the official currency of France until January 1, 2002, when it was replaced with the euro, the common currency of the 19 members of the European Union (EU) that form the eurozone.

The last French franc collector coin issued was released in 2001, called the Last Franc, and was made of an unusual oblong shape

The Euro Arrives

There was a three-year transition period from 1999, when the euro was announced, until 2002 when euros replaced francs. Franc banknotes were accepted until 2005, and then the currency was demonetized.

The franc is still used today in countries that were previously colonies of France that form part of the Francophonie, similar to the British Commonwealth.

Among the many circulating coins the mint issues, the 2-euro commemoratives the Paris Mint releases are often popular with collectors in EU countries and depict themes and monuments characteristic of each nation.

Recent French Coin Releases

Today, the Paris Mint is best known for its wide range of silver and gold commemorative coins that celebrate France's history, art, and grandeur. In addition, the French mint also strikes silver and gold coins sold at their face values, which range from 10 euros to 5,000 euros. These coins depict modern versions of classic French numismatic icons like the Sower (a farm girl sowing seeds) and Rooster, like this 2016 100-euro 50-gram silver coin.

A popular new series of silver gold coins celebrates France's role in the American War of Independence, which began with 2020 coins marking the arrival in 1789 of French General Lafayette in the United States, who played a crucial role in securing the victory of the American colonies against the British monarchy.

These pieces include round-shaped 10-euro silver coins and the first-ever octagonal-shaped French coins, including a 25-euro 2 oz silver coin and a 100-euro 1 oz gold version, all with very limited mintages.

Another recent popular issue is the V-shaped coins that mark the 75th anniversary of the allied victory in World War II issued in 22.2-gram silver and ¼ oz gold.

Lafayette French CoinLafayette French Coin
Coin Authority SurveryCoin Authority Survery

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