If you pay for an item with cash – something becoming less usual in France although shops must accept this option – you may be missing a trick if you do not look carefully at the coins you get in your change.
A few coins can be worth well above their face value as legal tender.
Certain €2 coins with special ‘national side’ designs (not the ‘standard side’ which shows the map of Europe) are often worth far more to a seller than to a shopkeeper, meaning you should check your coins carefully to see if they are special.
Coins minted from smaller nations which use the euro, and some limited edition coins, can appeal to collectors and can be found in circulation.
Which coins are valuable?
Generally, the more valuable coins fall under two categories.
Commemorative coins to mark an event, such as 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, or highlight a famous monument, person, place, or piece of national history from a eurozone country.
They can be minted by any country in the eurozone, although each country can only mint two per year. Most countries mint fewer commemorative coins than allowed.
Commemorative coins are €2 pieces and are legal tender.
Once minted, these coins can enter circulation so there is a chance you may get one in your change.
However some commemorative coins, although legal tender, may not be released into circulation but sold directly to collectors on release.
Coins from microstates can be more collectable because generally far fewer are produced.
This includes coins from Monaco, San Marino, and the Vatican City, which are not part of the EU but are part of the eurozone and can mint a limited amount of coins in the currency – usually less than 30,000.
These countries sometimes mint commemorative coins of their own, with these often being the most sought after, and thus fetching the highest sales price.
The highest value €2 coin is Monaco’s Grace Kelly commemorative coin. 20,000 were minted, and they sell for thousands of euros.
Another rare coin is San Marino’s 2004 commemorative €2 for national scholar Bartolomeo Borghesi, which can sell for in excess of €100.
Which of these coins are more common?
Unfortunately it is extremely unlikely that a coin of this value, the Monaco Grace or San Marino Borghesi, will be in your change, they were aimed more at collectors.
However some of the more common commemorative coins, such as France’s 2021 coin depicting Marianne, can be worth more than their legal tender if in good condition. If sold to a collector France's Marianne can fetch up to €10.
Most other commemorative coins will be around €3-€4.