The Banque de France’s gold reserves

France has the fourth largest gold reserves in the world after the United States, Germany and Italy (the fifth largest if the reserves of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are included). Under French law, the Banque de France is responsible for the safe custody and management of these reserves (Article L. 141-2 of the Monetary and Financial Code). It mainly stores them in an ultra-secure vault known as the Souterraine, which is located 27 metres below ground and won the International Underground Architecture award in 1940.

All the gold discovered and used in the world since the dawn of time amounts to less than 180,000 tonnes or approximately 9,000 m3 (19.5 tonnes/m3). It could fit easily into the Souterraine.

The size of France’s gold reserves in ounces is published monthly on the Banque de France website. At the end of May 2023, it amounted to 78.3 million ounces or 2,436.8 tonnes. This figure has remained unchanged since 2009 when France last sold some of its gold. There are no plans to either increase or reduce these reserves over the coming years: gold is an important reserve asset which strengthens the Banque de France’s balance sheet and ensures it has the credibility to perform its missions in an independent manner. 

As well as ensuring the safekeeping of France’s reserves, the Banque de France provides gold custody services for a number of institutional clients (foreign central banks and international organisations). However, this accounts for only a small portion of the gold stored at the Banque de France. A number of other major central banks have also provided gold custody services for several decades, notably the Bank of England and the US Federal Reserve (Fed)

Image Outre la conservation des réserves d’or de l’État français, la Banque de France assure également le stockage des réserves d’or d’un certain nombre de clients institutionnels Description Outre la conservation des réserves d’or de l’État français, la Banque de France assure également le stockage des réserves d’or d’un certain nombre de clients institutionnels.
The Banque de France stores the gold reserves of a number of institutional clients: foreign central banks and international organisations.

Important information

The Banque de France does not trade gold on behalf of individual investors. Individual investors can buy and sell gold at banks with a gold trading department, at specialised dealers or at auction.

Sales of gold are subject to specific tax rules.

Official texts governing gold trading

General Tax Code

  • Article 150 VI on the taxes applicable to the sale or export of precious metals, jewellery, works of art, collectors’ items and antiques
  • Article 150 VK  on the liability of sellers or exporters for this tax, the amount of the tax and when it is due
  • Article 150 VL on exemptions from the tax

Monetary and Financial Code

  • Article L426-1 on the holding, trading and transportation of gold
  • Article L152-1 on reporting obligations regarding the transportation of cash (including gold)
  • Article L342-1 regarding the doorstep sale, purchase or exchange of gold in the form of ingots, bars, foreign coins and demonetised gold coins
  • Article D514-8 regarding the amount of pawnbroker loans guaranteed by platinum, gold or silver items