8. Searching in France

Several genealogists go to France to carry out search.  In certain cases, this is useless because others searched before without finding anything, especially the families with a great number of descendants by the men; sometimes, the registers are on microfilms and they are the same microfilms available in a Family History Center of the LDS or some societies.  But, visiting the country of the ancestor is also an occasion to walk upon ancestral soil and several of us visit France each year.

The best guide seems to be Guide des recherches sur l'histoire des familles, by Gildas Bernard, available in several places in Montreal (in French).

The Archives Departementales (A.D.) are holding only the Archives concerning that departement. There are a certain number of reference books, sometimes a cardex with an index of local records, sometimes repertories of records from the departement. The documents are organized in the same way for all departements and there is a general catalogue indicating the contents of each series. In general, it is necessary to fill out a form to obtain a document and the latter, including the repertories and certain books, are distributed to the client with a fixed schedule (for example, each hour plus 15 and 45 minutes). Each center is different. In addition you will find a certain number of guides at the A.D. for some other departements; some are dispersed randomly in various libraries of Montreal.  Perhaps, you will find some of them in your local library?  Here a few series of interest.

Addresses of the Archives departementales can be found on the Francetre Internet site.  You can also check the French white pages in section 6 for addresses of mairies.  Use keywords like archives departementales.

The Archives Communales (Town Archives) (A.C.) are holding the archives of a given town. Many towns transferred old vital records to the A.D. Those that kept their vital records have very variable opening hours. For the small towns, it is one half-day per week.  It is thus necessary to write the town hall (mairie) before going there.  Specify that you will visit the area and which ancestors interest you.  Sometimes, they will indicate you a searcher in the vicinity (as it happened to the author who was entitled to a guided tour).  Indicate also your intention to lodge in the area, otherwise you will likely not have an answer.

Check the French white pages in section 6 for addresses of mairies.  Use keywords like mairie or archives municipales (town archives) or archives.

Look for local associations of genealogists and opening hours of their libraries. Several have a large number of repertories that will facilitate your search. In certain cases, they will be very pleased to help a cousin from overseas coming to visit them.

In general, the A.C. records are older than the A.D. but tourists with limited visiting hours prefer larger center (A.D.).  You will increase the odds of discovering information if you do consult the A.C. also.  For example, the genealogy of the Vernier of Claix (38), which appears in volume 2 of this work, was developed on several generations in a few hours only at the A.C.

In Paris, there are some interesting resources.  The name in French will be used to help you find the places.  If you use the www.pageszoom.com Internet Web site, you can get a map of the area.

The CARAN (Archives Nationales, 11 rue des 4 Fils, 75003, phone 01 40 27 64 19) covers the whole of France.  Caran has indexes on microfilms for each study of the Minutier central de Paris, that is Notary records like marriage contracts and probates for Paris and neighborhood.  You may want to consult the Terrier du Roi, with the list of streets and homeowners in the center of Paris.
The Archives de Paris (or Archives departemen-tales since Paris has her own departement) are located 18 Boulevard Serurier, 75019, phone 01 53 72 41 23.  Older vital records were rebuilt after the fire of 1871 but they can be consulted in Bibliotheque Nationale.  Therefore, the A.D. are useful for more recent records, including censuses.

The Bibliothèque Nationale de France (National Library of France, phone 01 53 79 59 59), has a large collection of genealogical documents indexed partly in Saffroy or Arnaud.  It is located on 58 rue Richelieu 75002 but part of the collection has been moved to 11 quai François Mauriac 75013, in 1998.  Fee to get in is $5, but the first two visits are free and there are temporary passes and year passes.  Also, you MUST prove that you have published important works or bring an introductory letter from a known historian or equivalent.

The Bibliotheque Beaubourg (centre Pompidoux, 19 rue Beaubourg, 75004, temporary displaced, in 1998-2000, in the old supermarché ASECO, place Brantôme, Quartier de l'Horloge, near the Beaubourg building) has a small genealogical section.  The Bibliotheque Sainte-Genevieve (10 pl. Panthéon 75005, phone 01 44 41 97 97) is another public library with a genealogical area.

The Bibliothèque généalogique (a Genealogical Library) (3 rue de Turbigo, 75001, phone 01 42 33 58 21) is a private center.  It charges $10 per day if one wants to consult documents.  As a foreign visitor, you will probably have the opportunity to use their computerized catalogue.  You can search on the net through www.geneanet.org to see if they have something about the names you are looking for.  They indexed many publications and their catalogue includes genealogies with at least 3 generations.

If you want to buy genealogical books, pay a visit to Librairie Saffroy (3 quai Malaquais 75006, phone 01 43 26 09 19), les Éditions Christian (14 av La Bourdonnais 75007, phone 01 45 55 85 53) or Sedopols (76 avenue Paul Doumer, 75116 Paris, phone : 01 45 03 01 41).  Editions Christian is reported to ship foreign at no charge, but this was not confirmed.

Some references about Paris: "Sur les traces de vos ancêtres à Paris", 1997, by Archives de Paris;  "Généalogie Paris Ile-de-France", 1996, by Valérie Gautier, published by Editions Parigramme.  Also, there are many more books about probably each departement, explaining local resource.

There are other specialized archives (Colonies, Invalides or Army records, Marine, etc, and some centers are located in other towns, not necessary in the same building or town as A.D.).

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