A competition was organised in 1996-1997 to choose the design of the national sides of the euro coins.
A panel, chaired by the Minister for Economic and Financial Affairs and made up of experts in numismatics, artists, members of parliament, one former member of the European Commission (Christine Scrivener), the French Mint Director Emmanuel Constans, the General Engraver Pierre Rodier, actress Irène Jacob and members of professional bodies, chose the winning designs from over 1 200 entries received from 97 participants.
On the €1 and €2 coins, a tree symbolising life, growth and stability is framed by a hexagon – France – and surrounded by the motto of the French Republic: ‘Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité’ (Freedom, Equality, Fraternity). The edge lettering on the €2 coin is ‘2**’ repeated six times, alternately upright and inverted.
The 10, 20 and 50-cent coins depict a sower, a traditional feature of French coins and stamps since 1898.
The 1, 2 and 5-cent coins show a modern portrait of Marianne, the personification of the French Republic.
As of 2022, France issued 1 and 2 euro coins with new designs. The modified designs are in line with the symbolism of the previous designs of the 1 and 2 euro coins: the tree of life. They represent a mixture of the two species that make up the emblem of the Republic: the oak, image of strength and solidity, and the olive tree, symbol of peace.
The designs of the other denominations remained unchanged.
1 and 2 euro coins from previous years featuring the old French national face remain valid.