Searching for French Family History Records

November 1, 2012  - by 

Some people are overwhelmed by the thought of searching for their own French ancestors. However, doing French family history research may be easier than you realize, especially when you see all of the online resources that are available to the public.

More than a dozen Internet web sites and 6 quick and informative online courses found on the FamilySearch website provide all the information and resources you need to begin a productive journey of discovery. Many of the websites listed blow will provide you with digitized images of original birth, marriage and death records from villages and cities throughout France. They also provide information about citizens living in French colonies throughout the world.

All of the online courses are free, as are many of the websites shown below. Some of the sites will provide you with guided instructions on how to use the records found on their site. If you are interested in getting the original records shown on these sites, you will be guided where to write, how much they cost and other useful information you need to be aware of.

Time periods for many of these records range from the early 1600s to the early 1900s. In most cases, the handwriting is remarkably easy to read. Some of the early archivists took great pride in their penmanship; creating page after page of beautifully elegant handwriting.

By using the websites and courses listed below, almost anyone can search for their ancestors and enjoy success. Even better, you can do it from the comfort of your own home.

Internet Sites for Finding French Records and Family Trees – Links to many important genealogical websites, including the digitized record online. – You can search this database by name and town. – Find out where in France people were living with your surname. – Find patron submitted family pedigrees and trees. If the site comes up in English, change your browser settings to display in French. (search for France in Catalog) – Several Departments are online, including Paris – 22,000 male and female given names from Quebec – Search by name and Department, maps – Provides links to other genealogical sites. Lists Archive addresses and when open for research. (Very important when planning a visit) – This site links to the actual records online. – Useful for Huguenot Research – These maps were completed in 1783 and show even the smallest village in detail. – This site shows detailed maps of France and other European countries – Algerian records online

French Canadian Websites

Free Online Courses on Doing French Research

In this lesson you will learn how to locate the place of origin of your French ancestor, determine the right spelling of the name, and use dates correctly.  Video and Slides (20 minutes)

In this lesson you will learn about church records and civil records in France. Video and Slides (20 minutes)

This course guides you through basic French genealogical research. Interactive Slides

This lesson will help you recognize the letters used in French documents. This will eventually help you read, understand, and extract information from French genealogical records. Interactive Slides (25 minutes)

This lesson will help you key words and phrases that identify names, dates, family relationships, events, and locations in French records. Interactive Slides (25 minutes)

This lesson will help you become familiar with a variety of French genealogical record types and formats. You will learn how to locate and extract key information from these record types. Interactive Slides (30 minutes)

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  1. Can anyone please tell me would it be possible to find my Irish Grandfather`s death record in 1900-1910. Having Died shortly after arriving in France from Ireland.

  2. Looking for great grandfather who was born in France. Pierre LaPado and his brother Jacque LaPado. Came to Ellis Island and name whas spelled differently. I believe he was born in Lyon or Paris in 1865. He has a son John R. LaPado born in Chicago. Ill. My dad was Robert LaPado born June 5, 1924.

  3. I am looking for the birth record of my grandmother, she was born, Camille Pinat, on 27th October, 1900, Montreuill sur mer. She married William Cushing, probably in France, not sure what year. Would appreciate any leads

        1. Romain, thank you so much this wonderful news, I think what threw me was the fact I had been told his name was William Colin, this is so exciting.

          May I wish you a very merry Christmas and happy new year.


        2. Romain, it is William Colin, and what’s more that link appears to be a marriage record, is it possible to download it, this is so amazing. I can’t believe it. I do thank you.


        3. Romain, I was sent a copy of Camille and William’s marriage record, what I need to know, if you could help, is who is the Mayor of Montreuil Sur Mer, and what address should I write to.

  4. I am looking for my grandfather who was born in Russia in 1871 and died near Paris c.1958. His name was Alexei Constantine Golbert. Can you advise? Thank you in advance.

  5. I am looking for a birth record for my grandmother Antonietta Viola born 1902 or 1903 her parents were Angelo Viola and Teresa Di Mambro…..I think it was Alsace Lorraine, but I am not sure…any suggestions?

  6. I am trying to track my gt gdfather birth records. Born Francois Joseph Rambaud in Marseille France 1861. Those details according to his nz death certificate. Any help would be appreciated. 30 years + in the looking

  7. I have. Been informed that my ancestry. Came from Normandy france I want to learn more what should I do .both my parents are deceased

  8. My great grandpa was French from France and I know he left there and traveling to matinique and had my grandpa there he got married and after my grandpa came to St Lucia and my father was born and some of my uncles when to French Guyana so I have relatives around but I don’t know how to search for them I need help to get to know my loves ones .i have they names and who some of them got married to.

  9. My great grandpa name was Michel Edmond from France he travel to Martinique,My Grandpa name was Louis Edmond or Louis Edouard(Edward)or Benjamin Edouard or Benjamin Edmond. In Martinique my grand mother’s name was laurette Louis,my great grandma name was Marie Beausejour,I am looking for my those who are still alive my cousins and nephews nieces and so uncles when to French Guyana and hoot married his wife name was Calice St. Louis they live in Cayenne French Guyana

  10. I’m looking for a birth certificate for my great grandfather from France his name is John William Dubois his year of birth was 1881 not sure what month or date. He came to South Africa in the early 1900.

  11. Hi I am looking for information of how to trace my ancestors who probably originated from Pondicherry in Tamil Nadu, South India.

  12. Can anyone help me find a good friend of mine Simone Rugerro who lived in Neudorf-Strousburg. I am going to be in France for a few hours en -route to my destination and would so much love to make contact with the lady.

  13. I live in Ethiopia and have no connection with my father’s family. I don’t remember his full name only that it was jack. I have a picture of him too but other than that nothing. He was a marine that travelled in Djibouti around 1975 I think. The picture is from 1977 on my birthday. He use to come visit until I was eight but I unfortunately lost contact afterwards.