French Franc - Banknotes


The first franc paper money issues were made in 1795. They were assignats in denominations between 100 and 10,000 francs. These followed in 1796 by "territorial mandate promises" for 25 up to 500 francs. The treasury also issued notes that year for 25 up to 1000 francs.

In 1800, the Bank of France began issuing notes, first in denominations of 500 and 1000 francs. In the late 1840s, 100- and 200-franc notes were added, while 5-, 20- and 50- francs were added in the 1860s and 70s, although the 200-franc note was discontinued.

The First World War saw the introduction of 10- and 5000-franc notes. The chambers of commerce 's notgeld ("money of necessity"), from 1918 to 1926, produced 25c, 50c, 1 F, 2 F, 5 F and 10 F notes.

Despite base metal 5, 10 & 20 F coins being introduced between 1929 and 1933, the banknotes were not removed.

In 1944, the liberating Allies introduced dollar-like paper money in denominations between 2 and 1000 francs, as well as a brass 2-francs coin.

Following the war, 10,000-franc notes were introduced, while 5-, 10- and 20-franc notes were replaced by coins in 1950, as were the 50- and 100-franc notes in the mid-1950s.

The first issue of the new franc consisted of 500-, 1000-, 5000- and 10,000-franc notes overprinted with their new denominations of 5, 10, 50 and 100 new francs. In 1959, Banknotes in circulation when the old franc was replaced by the New franc were:

  • 500 francs : Victor Hugo
  • 1000 francs : Cardinal de Richelieu
  • 5000 francs : Henri IV
  • 10000 francs : Bonaparte 1st consul

This issue was followed by notes of the same design but with only the new denomination shown.

A 500-new franc note is also introduced in 1960 representing Molière, replaced in 1969 by the yellow Pascal type (colloquially called a pascal).

5- and 10- franc notes were withdrawn in 1970 and 1979, respectively.

Banknotes in circulation when the franc was replaced were:

  • 20 francs (€3.05) : Claude Debussy Purple
  • 50 francs (€7.62) : Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Blue (introduced 20 October 1993, replacing Maurice Quentin de la Tour)
  • 100 francs (€15.24) : Paul Cézanne Orange (introduced 15 December 1997, replacing Eugène Delacroix)
  • 200 francs (€30.49) : Gustave Eiffel Red (introduced 29 October 1996, replacing Montesquieu)
  • 500 francs (€76.22) : Pierre and Marie Curie Green (introduced 22 March 1995, replacing Blaise Pascal)

Banknotes of the current series as of euro changeover could be exchanged with the French central bank or with other services until 17 February 2012. Most older series were exchangeable for 10 years from date of withdrawal. As the last banknote from the previous series had been withdrawn on 31 March 1998 (200 francs Montesquieu), the deadline for the exchange was 31 March 2008.

  • 10 francs banknote (1976) (front)

  • 10 francs banknote (1976) (back)

  • 20 francs banknote (1983) (front)

  • 20 francs banknote (1983) (back)

  • 50 francs Saint-Exupéry

  • 100 francs Cézanne

  • 200 francs Eiffel

  • 500 francs Pierre and Marie Curie

Banknotes of the French franc (1993 issue)
Image Value Obverse Reverse Watermark Remark
50 francs Antoine de Saint-Exupéry; Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince); "Latécoère 28" airplane "Breguet 14" biplane Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Name of Saint-Exupéry incorrectly spelled as Éxupéry at upper left on front
50 francs Antoine de Saint-Exupéry; Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince); "Latécoère 28" airplane "Breguet 14" biplane Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Name of Saint-Exupéry correctly spelled as Exupéry at upper left on front
100 francs Paul Cézanne Fruit (by Paul Cézanne) Paul Cézanne EURion constellation on the upper right corner of the note's reverse consisting of 100s spread across.
200 francs Gustave Eiffel; truss of the Eiffel tower Base of the Eiffel tower Gustave Eiffel
500 francs Marie Curie and Pierre Curie Laboratory utensils Marie Curie

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