French money sports an interesting history that has significantly involved royalty, war and politics. Many iterations of currency existed in the country before the franc became standard in the 14th century. Most recently, France joined the European Union and traded the franc for the euro, a powerful contemporary currency.

Currency History

French society began to use coins at the top of the 5th century B.C. The Romans established a currency system around 118 B.C. Later, the money was based on a relationship between three different currencies: one livre was equal to 20 sous, or 240 deniers. The Louis d'Or was introduced in 1720 and was accompanied with several other currencies such as the ecu, the livre tournois, the sol tournois and the liard. In the 1860s, France entered a currency agreement with Belgium, Italy and Switzerland. That relationship concluded in 1927.

The Franc

The first coin to be called a franc appeared in 1360, during the Hundred Years' War. The happenings of the conflict resulted in the release of King John from ransom; the royal created an ordinance which resulted in franc d'or à cheval. Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte helped to standardize the franc's coinage throughout the French empire. After the First World War, the franc's value greatly diminished. In 1960, general Charles de Gaulle moved to significantly augment the currency's worth by issuing the "nouveau franc," worth 100 of the previous coins.

The Euro

France, alongside 10 other European countries, formally transitioned into the euro as the primary currency on New Year's Day, 1999. This economic solidarity was meant to grant each individual country greater financial strength. By adopting the euro, countries become part of the European Union, an economy entity with a wealth matches that of the United States. Bills vary in size. Denominations are available in units of 5 to 500 euros. Coins worth one or two euros are also minted.

Vocabulary and Exchanges

Understanding rudimentary French words about currency and finance can support your endeavors when traveling there. Money is known as "l'argent" in French. "Billets" describe paper money, whereas coins are called "des pièces." Checks are "chèques." Check the value of the euro compared to that of the dollar is often, even daily, when regularly exchanging the currencies. Often, one euro is worth more than one dollar, but less than one Great British pound.