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History and Archives
The Society was founded in 1906 in celebration of the Entente Cordiale. There were three founders: Paul Barbier, the first professor of French at the University, and Max Wideman and W. E. Thomas, who were leading figures in the sea trade between Cardiff and France. The Society acquired permanent premises in Park Place and grew rapidly to play a leading part in the cultural and social life of Cardiff, with many distinguished patrons.
At the time of the First World War, there was a large French colony in Cardiff and many members of the Society were recalled for military duty in France. During the Second World War, the Society gave great support to the Free French Forces and its house in Park Place was the Cardiff base for the Friends of Free France.
For over 100 years, the Society has upheld the original aim of 'strengthening the bonds of friendship between the two countries' through an annual programme of lectures, social events and visits.
centenary history pdf (8,128KB) In the Society's centenary year, 2006-7, an illustrated history of the Society was produced. Click here to download a copy.

early history pdf (4,650KB) Following the discovery of the Barbier archives in 2016, a supplementary history covering the origins and early years 1905-18 was produced. Click here to download a copy.

early history references pdf (409KB) This document comprises appendices 9 and 10 of the Early History, containing the full set of newspaper references in chronological order. Click here to download a copy.

early history talk pdf (2232KB) This document contains the full text with illustrations of a talk entitled "L'histoire de la Société à ses débuts : 1905-18" given by John Martin on 24 March 2018. Click here to download a copy.

ww2 history pdf (2,389KB) This document gives an account of the support given by the Society to the Free French during World War 2, and especially to the members of the Free French Air Force based at St Athan. Click here to download a copy.

l'Alliance Française logoAffiliated to the Alliance Française

Original artwork by Marcel Ragody, President of the Society in 1912