French Parish Registers (FR: Registres paroissiaux) are church records of births, marriages, and burials in France and many of these French Parish Registers are now available for free, online.

 

Why Should I Use Parish Records?

Parish records predate government or civil records of births, marriages, and deaths and are often the only available record of these events.

 

In 1792, after the French Revolution, when the law prescribed that civil records of births, marriages, and deaths be kept and banned priests from keeping these records (between 20 September 1792 and 8 April 1802), some priests continued to secretly record baptisms, marriages, and burials and many of these registers have been preserved.

These registers can provide valuable information – and open new avenues for research in case of blockages – with the mention of godparents, witnesses of religious marriage, burial. *

 

The History of French Parish Records

Parishes were the basic unit of church organization and also functioned in later years as a level of governmental jurisdiction. Parish records were kept from the Middles ages onward as life revolved around local parishes.

The parish registers were kept by parish priests, who entered baptisms, marriages and burials… which concerned almost all the population. The keeping of these registers was made obligatory by the ordinance of Villers-Cotterêt in 1539.**

 

Most parishes became administrative towns or communes and civil registers (l’etat civil) kept in the communes supplemented & then replaced parish registers.

 

In 1667 an order required records to be kept in duplicate with an original kept by the parish and commune and then a duplicate sent to the clerk’s office in the registry of the court. This duplication of parish records wasn’t fully implemented until 1737.

Held by the mayors of the communes in the name of the state, it mentions identically births, marriages and deaths of all inhabitants of a municipality without distinction of religion. …The registers, both parish and civil, have been kept in two series since 1737, one kept in the parish, then the commune, the other deposited in the registry of the court. The existence of these two series makes it possible to remedy most of the deficiencies due to losses and destruction.**

 

In 1792, the French government instituted government mandated recordings of births, marriages, and deaths in France and church parish registers were required by law to be turned over to the government authorities.

 

French parish registers are now kept at the Departmental Archives in France.

*Pour complter votre recherche. (n.d.). Retrieved September 25, 2018, from https://archives.lot.fr/r/53/pour-completer-votre-recherche/
**Registres paroissiaux et de l’etat civil. (n.d.). Retrieved September 25, 2018, from https://archives.creuse.fr/s/2/registres-paroissiaux-et-d-etat-civil/

Baptism and Death records were kept as early as the 1500s. Marriages typically were recorded beginning in 1579.

 

What Can I Learn from Baptism records?

Some things you may learn from French baptism records include:

  • Date of baptism
  • Child’s name
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Father’s full name
  • Mother’s full name, including maiden name
  • Godparents’ names
  • Father’s occupation
  • Mother’s occupation

 

What Can I Learn from Marriage records?

Some things you may learn from French marriage records include:

  • Date of marriage
  • Groom’s full name
  • Bride’s full name, including maiden name
  • Age of Groom and Bride
  • Places of birth of Groom and Bride
  • Occupations of Groom and Bride
  • Places of residence of Groom and Bride
  • Name of Parents of the Groom
  • Name of Parents of the Bride
  • Previous marital statuses of the Groom and Bride
  • Names of Witnesses to the marriage

 

What Can I Learn from Death records?

Some things you may learn from French death records include:

  • Date of burial
  • Name of the deceased
  • Age of the deceased at death
  • Occupation of the deceased
  • Date of death
  • Place of death
  • Cause of death
  • Witnesses or declarants of the death

 

Language Helps
  • If you use Google Chrome as your web browser, Google will automatically translate pages to your default search language. You can opt out of this translated page or refresh your browser for a second chance to see the language options.
  • Many French websites also have the option to translate to the language of your choice.
  • You can also open a second browser window with Google Translate and copy and paste text to that window if you need a translation.
  • Here’s a free French Genealogical Wordlist from FamilySearch.
  • FamilySearch has a free France Language and Handwriting page with instructions, lessons, and tutorials.
  • Here’s a French Glossary of Terms from the Departmental Archives of Vendée (Department 85).

 

Here is a list of all French Archives by department number. If the archive currently has parish registers available online, the link has been made live. Date ranges available online will vary.

 

For live links to all France Archives by Department, see French Archives Online.

 

# Department Name
01 Departmental Archives of Ain
02 Departmental Archives of Aisne
03 Departmental Archives of Allier
04 Departmental Archives of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence
05 Departmental Archives of Hautes-Alpes
06 Departmental Archives of Alpes-Maritimes
07 Departmental Archives of Ardèche
08 Departmental Archives of Ardennes
09 Departmental Archives of Ariège
10 Departmental Archives of Aube
11 Departmental Archives of Aude
12 Departmental Archives of Aveyron
13 Departmental Archives of Bouches-du-Rhône
14 Departmental Archives of Calvados
15 Departmental Archives of Cantal
16 Departmental Archives of Charente
17 Departmental Archives of Charente-Maritime
18 Departmental Archives of Cher
19 Departmental Archives of Corrèze
2A Departmental Archives of Corse-du-Sud
2B Departmental Archives of Haute-Corse
21 Departmental Archives of Côte-d’Or
22 Departmental Archives of Côtes-d’Armor
23 Departmental Archives of Creuse
24 Departmental Archives of Dordogne
25 Departmental Archives of Doubs (in process)
26 Departmental Archives of the Drôme
27 Departmental Archives of Eure
28 Departmental Archives of Eure-et-Loir
29 Departmental Archives of Finistère (uncertain)
30 Departmental Archives of Gard
31 Departmental Archives of Haute-Garonne
32 Departmental Archives of Gers (partial)
33 Departmental Archives of Gironde
34 Departmental Archives of Hérault
35 Departmental Archives of Ille et Vilaine
36 Departmental Archives of Indre
37 Departmental Archives of Indre-et-Loire
38 Departmental Archives of Isère
39 Departmental Archives of Jura (in process)
40 Departmental Archives of the Landes
41 Departmental Archives of Loir-et-Cher
42 Departmental Archives of the Loire
43 Departmental Archives of Haute-Loire
44 Departmental Archives of Loire-Atlantique
45 Departmental Archives of Loiret
46 Departmental Archives of Lot
47 Departmental Archives of Lot-et-Garonne
48 Departmental Archives of Lozère
49 Departmental Archives of Maine-et-Loire
50 Departmental Archives of the Manche
51 Departmental Archives of the Marne
52 Departmental Archives of Haute-Marne
53 Departmental Archives of Mayenne
54 Departmental Archives of Meurthe-et-Moselle
55 Departmental Archives of Meuse
56 Departmental Archives of Morbihan
57 Departmental Archives of Moselle
58 Departmental Archives of Nièvre
59 Departmental Archives of the North
60 Departmental Archives of Oise
61 Departmental Archives of Orne
62 Departmental Archives of Pas-de-Calais
63 Departmental Archives of Puy-de-Dôme
64 Departmental Archives of Pyrénées-Atlantiques
65 Departmental Archives of Hautes-Pyrénées
66 Archives départementales des Pyrénées-Orientales
67 Departmental Archives of Bas-Rhin
68 Departmental Archives of Haut-Rhin
69 Departmental Archives of Rhône and the Lyon Metropolis
70 Departmental Archives of Haute-Saône
71 Departmental Archives of Saône-et-Loire
72 Departmental Archives of Sarthe
73 Departmental Archives of Savoie
74 Departmental Archives of Haute-Savoie
75 Departmental and Municipal Archives of Paris
76 Departmental Archives of Seine-Maritime
77 Departmental Archives of Seine-et-Marne
78 Departmental Archives of Yvelines
79 Departmental Archives of Deux-Sèvres
80 Departmental Archives of Somme
81 Departmental Archives of Tarn
82 Departmental Archives of Tarn-et-Garonne
83 Departmental Archives of Provence-Alpes-du-Var
84 Departmental Archives of Vaucluse
85 Departmental Archives of Vendée
86 Departmental Archives of Vienne
87 Departmental Archives of Haute-Vienne
88 Departmental Archives of the Vosges
89 Departmental Archives of Yonne
90 Departmental Archives of Territoire de Belfort
91 Departmental Archives of Essonne
92 Departmental Archives of Hauts-de-Seine
93 Departmental Archives of Seine-Saint-Denis
94 Departmental Archives of Val de Marne
95 Departmental Archives of Val-d’Oise
971 Departmental Archives of Guadeloupe
972 Departmental Archives of Martinique
973 Territorial Archives of Guyana
974 Departmental Archives of Réunion
975 Territorial Archive of Saint Pierre and Miquelon
976 Department Archives of Mayotte
977 Saint-Barthélemy
978 Territorial Archives of Saint-Martin
986 Wallis-et-Futuna
987 Archival and Audiovisual Heritage Service for the French Polynesia Territory
988 Archives of New Caledonia

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