France Genealogy

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Getting started with French research

Welcome to the France page! FamilySearch Wiki is a community website dedicated to helping people throughout the world learn how to find their ancestors. Through the France page you can learn how to find, use, and analyze French records of genealogical value. The content is variously targeted to beginners, intermediate, and expert researchers. Here you will find helpful research tools and research guidance. Please visit the help page to learn more about using the site. The French Page is a work in progress, your contributions and feedback are essential! For help with specific areas in France, click here for a list of locations and topics.

See the tutorials at the FamilySearch Learning Center on basic French Researchand on Reading French Handwritten Records.

History of France

See the Facebook page "Histoire de France - sites et blogs" for more information.


Prior to March 1790 France was organized into provinces.  Several administrative regions of France still carry the names of the former provinces.

Provinces (with their capital)


Today France is divided into 96 departments plus 4 overseas departments. This number has changed over the years, in 1790 there were 83 and at the height of Napoleon's reign there were as many as 130. Records are kept on the town level, but one needs to know in which department the town is located.

01 Ain 2B Haute-Corse 40 Landes 60 Oise 80 Somme
02 Aisne 21 Côte d'Or 41 Loir-et-Cher 61 Orne 81 Tarn
03 Allier 22 Côtes d'Armor 42 Loire 62 Pas-de-Calais 82 Tarn-et-Garonne
04 Alpes-de-Haute-Provence 23 Creuse 43 Haute-Loire 63 Puy-de-Dôme 83 Var
05 Alpes(Hautes) 24 Dordogne 44 Loire-Atlantique 64 Pyrénéés-Atlantiques 84 Vaucluse
06 Alpes-Maritimes 25 Doubs 45 Loiret 65 Pyrénéés(Hautes-) 85 Véndée
07 Ardèche 26 Drôme 46 Lot 66 Pyrénéés-Orientales 86 Vienne
08 Ardennes 27 Eure 47 Lot-et-Garonne 67 Bas-Rhin 87 Vienne (Haute-)
09 Ariège 28 Eure-et-Loir 48 Lozère 68 Haut-Rhin 88 Vosges
10 Aube 29 Finistère 49 Maine-et-Loire 69 Rhône 89 Yonne
11 Aude 30 Gard 50 Manche 70 Saône (Haute-) 90 Territoire-de-Belfort
12 Aveyron 31 Haute-Garonne 51 Marne 71 Saône-et-Loire 91 Essonne
13 Bouches-du-Rhône 32 Gers 52 Marne (Haute-) 72 Sarthe 92 Hauts-de-Seine
14 Calvados 33 Gironde 53 Mayenne 73 Savoie 93 Seine-St.Denis
15 Cantal 34 Hérault 54 Meurthe-et-Moselle 74 Savoie (Haute-) 94 Val-de-Marne
16 Charente 35 Ille-et-Vilaine 55 Meuse 75 Paris (Ville de) 95 Val-d’Oise
17 Charente-Maritime 36 Indre 56 Morbihan 76 Seine-Maritime 971 Guadeloupe
18 Cher 37 Indre-et-Loire 57 Moselle 77 Seine-et-Marne 972 Martinique
19 Corrèze 38 Isère 58 Nièvre 78 Yvelines 973 Guyane
2A Corse-du-Sud 39 Jura 59 Nord 79 Sèvres (Deux-) 974 Réunion

Research Tools

Wiki article describing online collections are found at:

Research Strategies

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French citizens of Alsace-Lorraine (Haut Rhin, Bas Rhin, Moselle) often speak German. Many people from this area moved to Russia and the Ukraine and are discussed in Germans from Russia.

Did you know?

  • The archives of most of the départements (states) in France and 60 French cities have digitized a wide range of historical records and made them available online. Additional French archives are coming online monthly. Records available often include birth, marriage, and death records, cadastral and other land records, military records, censuses, and more. Click here to see the latest updates.
  • French national censuses are seldom used for primary research by most family historians, and many have not been microfilmed.
  • Some French military records begin as early as the 1500s. Records since the 19th century may include information about an ancestor's military career, such as promotions, places served, pensions, and conduct. In addition, these records may include information about his age, birthplace, residence, occupation, physical description, and family members.

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In order to make this wiki a better research tool, we need your help! Many tasks need to be done. You can help by:

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