Veil, Baker and Curie: acclaimed women to appear on new French coins

Europe  Monnaie De Paris
MAR 10, 2024 LISTEN
© Monnaie De Paris

France is redesigning its 10, 20 and 50 euro cent coins to honour women who have marked the country's history. The faces of national icons Simone Veil, Josephine Baker and Marie Curie will appear on coins set to go into circulation from the middle of 2024.

The new coins were designed by the French mint's chief engraver Joaquin Jimenez and feature the "three exceptional women".

Their profiles face in the same direction as "The Sower", the stylised female figure representing liberty that has been seen on French coins for the last 120 years.

"The three personalities selected to appear on these coins are the symbol of a strong attachment to the values ​​of the Republic and a source of daily inspiration for everyone," Marc Schwartz, CEO of the Monnaie de Paris – the Paris Mint – said when the new designs were unveiled this week.

Simone Veil

Politician, women's rights champion and Holocaust survivor Veil will be the face of the 10 cent coins.

As health minister, Veil argued for the legal right to abortion, and the "Veil Law" was enacted in 1975. At the time she was one of only nine women in the National Assembly.

She became the first elected president of the European Parliament in 1979.

Veil died in 2017. The following year she and her husband Antoine were transferred to the Panthéon, the Paris monument that houses the tombs of French national heroes, after a request by President Emmanuel Macron.

Veil is one of just six women buried there. 

Josephine Baker

American-French performer, Resistance fighter, feminist and civil rights activist Baker was the first black woman to enter the Panthéon in 2021.

She will appear on the 20 cent coins.
"My mother would have said: 'History has shown us that universal brotherhood must be learned, whereas it should be natural'," her son Brian Bouillon Baker said in a statement welcoming the news.

"I am proud that it embodies our republican values ​​today."

Macron said that Baker's entire life had been dedicated to "the twin quest for liberty and justice".

Marie Curie

Born Maria Sklodowska, Curie was a Polish-French physicist and chemist who conducted pioneering research on radioactivity.

She will become the new face of the 50 cent coins.
In 1895 she married the French physicist Pierre Curie, and she shared the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics with him and with the physicist Henri Becquerel for their work developing the theory of "radioactivity" – a term she coined.

In 1911 her discovery of the elements radium and polonium earned her a second Nobel, this time in chemistry.

She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, and the only person ever to have won it in different fields.

In 1995 she became the first woman to enter the Paris Panthéon on her own merits (the only other women interred there until then, Sophie Berthelot, was buried with her husband Marcellin).

Curie already appeared on the last 500 franc note and on several collector's coins.

National symbolism

Each minted euro coin has a European side and a national side, which can only be changed every 15 years.

The French side of the one and two cent coins, which feature oak and olive branches within a hexagon, was last redesigned for the 20th anniversary of the euro in 2022.

Its one, two and five cent coins show Marianne, the female symbol of the French republic.

The new coins will gradually be put into circulation by the summer of 2024, alongside the older designs.