The Monnaie de Paris (Paris Mint), created in 864, is the oldest French institution. Administratively speaking, the "Direction of Coins and Medals", the national mint is an administration of the French government charged with issuing coins as well as producing medals and other similar items. Many ancient coins are housed in the collections maintained there. Though in the Middle Ages there were numerous other mints in provincial cities officially issuing legitimate French coinage struck in the name of the ruler, the Monnaie de Paris has always been the prime issuer.
A Neoclassical edifice, the Hôtel de la Monnaie was designed by Jacques-Denis Antoine and built from 1767–1775 on the Left Bank of the Seine. The Monnaie was the first major civic monument undertaken by Antoine, yet shows a high level of ingenuity on the part of the architect. Today it is considered a key example of French Neoclassicism in pre-Revolutionary Paris. The building is typified by its heavy external rustication and severe decorative treatment. It boasts one of the longest façades on the Seine; its appearance has been likened to the Italian palazzo tradition. The building, which housed mint workshops, administrative rooms, and residential quarters, wraps around a large interior courtyard. It remains open to the public and includes a numismatics museum, located within what was once the main foundry.