Monnaie de Paris
11 quai Conti, 6th arrond.
Our Rating Neighborhood Latin Quarter (5th & 13th Arrondissements) Hours Tues–Sun 11am–7pm (until 9pm on Wed) Transportation Métro: Pont Neuf or Mabillon Phone 01-40-46-56-66 Prices Admission 10€ adults, free for children 18 and under Web site Monnaie de Paris
Unbeknownst to most (even many Parisians), not only does Paris have its very own working—and somewhat palatial—coin minting factory on the edge of the Seine in St-Germain-des-Près, but it comes with a Michelin-starred restaurant and an ever-changing roster of cutting edge contemporary art exhibitions. The former royal mint, a Republican mint since the Revolution, makes for a fascinating hour’s visit, showcasing not only the history of France’s coinage, but the history of money in general and the industrial process behind it all. Collectors will revel in the rare coin displays: One interactive area contains an écu—France’s currency until the Revolution—from the reign of Louis XVI (the story goes it was partly because of his recognizable profile on the coin—Louis had a rather large nose—that he was caught while trying to escape during the Revolution); other areas let you glimpse into the factory and try your hand at pressing your own coin. The visit ends in the boutique, which brims with collector’s coins and jewelry. Don’t leave without looking at the contemporary art displays dotted around the building; they contrast beautifully with the factory’s palace-like Neoclassic architecture, which dates from 1775. Note: Online tickets cost 1€ less. Strollers and baby carriers are on loan at the entrance.