The Monnaie de Paris (Paris Mint) was established on June 25, 864 by Charles the Bald, Carolingian king of France. At more than 1,150 years old, it is not only the oldest official institution in France but also the world’s oldest continuously-operating mint.
Historically, Paris was not the only location of France’s royal mint; 10 coining workshops were established by King Charles, and the number varied in the following centuries as mints opened, closed, and reopened along with the changes in the kingdom’s finances. It had risen to a total of 27 during the reign of Louis XIV, but the smaller regional workshops began to shut down over time and by 1878 the Monnaie de Paris was the only French mint still in operation.
The current headquarters of the mint are located in the Hôtel des Monnaies, a building that was designed by architect Jacques Denis Antoine and completed in 1775. Although its architectural grandeur was largely praised, some criticized that its magnificent, Neoclassical façade did not match its position as a coining workshop. The mint’s earlier home was built in 1358 and stayed in use until 1879.
Eventually, the facilities at Quai de Conti weren’t able to keep up with the demand for coinage. Thus the Monnaie de Paris’s operations were divided: artistic workshop and commemorative coins would be minted in Paris, and a new plant in Pessac would take over the industrial minting. Built in 1973, the Pessac plant produces 1.5 billion coins a year, its output including euro coins used in Malta, Cyprus, and Luxembourg, as well as other currencies of such countries as Thailand, Tunisia, Lebanon, and Costa Rica.
Today, the Hôtel des Monnaies is also home to the 11 Conti Museum, which boasts a display of minting machinery and a large collection of coins ranging from ancient to modern. There are loads of gold and silver coins, piedforts and Akan goldweights, as well as diverse types of proto-currency such as cacao beans and ingots. At the gift shop, you can purchase a variety of numismatics-related items, including souvenir medals and commemorative coins produced at the Paris Mint.
Know Before You Go
The museum is open every day of the week except Mondays, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. (or 9 p.m. on Wednesdays), and the entry fee is €12 for adults. There are temporary exhibitions as well.