The central repository of papers produced by French diplomatic and consular missions overseas. Note that the archives of former French colonies (from the years during which they were colonies) are not held at this archive.




17, rue de Casterneau 44000 Nantes France


Main website in French and a more limited version in English.


(33) 2 51 77 24 59


(33) 2 51 77 24 60


Monsieur le Directeur

je vous écris por savoir si c'est possible faire une recherche par courriel. Le document qui m'intéresse est un acte de mariage concernent mon aieul: Henri (Enrico) de Cortanze né à Nice le 11/sep/1858, mariéà Louise Spandony dans la ville de Costantinople l'an 1898. Il était attaché d'Ambassade (à Samsoun ?), je croix. J'espère que la chose soit possible car actuellement j'habite en Italie et je n'ai aucune possibilité de visiter votre Centre.

Pour le moment je Vous remercie et Veuillez agréer mes salutations.

Alessandro Gasparian de Cortanze


Schedule & hoursEdit

Monday to Friday, 9-6. Annual closure during the last two weeks of September.

Working language(s)Edit

French, some English


The archive is accessed through a gate from de Casterneau. After leaving a passport at the guardhouse on the left, proceed into the courtyard; the reading room is on your right. The entrance hall contains lockers, a room with vending machines and a telephone, and an unused exhibition room. The reading room itself is attractive and comfortable. Choose a place at one of half a dozen tables on the left (the room accommodates about three dozen researchers at a time). Each station has a light and power outlet. As the room is fairly dimly lit, workplaces near the windows are desirable, particularly for photographing documents. Archivists in charge of the reading room work from a circular desk in its centre. Behind this desk (on your right as you enter the room) are the shelves containing catalogues and handlists and a table on which to consult them. Beside this area is a smaller room, which contains microfilm and microfilm readers. Various reference books and periodicals are held on open shelves on the walls of the reading room. A computer terminal gives access to the internet.


The archive building, its street, and the quarter itself, are quiet and nondescript but easy to find. For a map and directions, see the CADN website. From the train station, take bus n°12, direction La Colinière, and get off at the "Dalby" stop. From place du Commerce in the middle of town, take bus n°11, direction Jules Verne, and get off at the "Casterneau" stop.


Description of holdingsEdit

CADN's major holdings include the Foreign Ministry records of

  • all French diplomatic and consular missions overseas
  • French delegations to international organizations and commissions
  • the French protectorates in Tunisia (1881-1956) and Morocco (1912-56)
  • the French mandates in Syria and Lebanon (1920-46)

The archive also contains material concerning the central administration of the foreign ministry, photographs and visual material, and microfilms of Foreign Ministry material that is held in other French archives. For a more detailed survey of holdings, consult these PDF summary files on the CADN website.

History of the archiveEdit

The Nantes archive opened in 1987. Previously (presumably), its material was held at central Foreign Ministry archives.

Catalogues & finding aidsEdit

CADN's catalogues are print only, and therefore must be consulted on site. Most but by no means all of the material at CADN has been catalogued. Every year, new finding aids are released, often produced with the assistance of student archivists carrying out internships in Nantes. It is worth asking archivists about the state of cataloging for each particular series--sometimes a draft catalogue (not yet on public display) can be consulted.

Languages of materialsEdit

Most material is in French.

Restrictions & difficultiesEdit

Classified materialEdit

Archivists apply time restrictions diligently, which range from 100 to 70 to fewer years depending on the nature of the material. Researchers can apply for an exception (derogation) from the Foreign Ministry; this process typically takes some weeks.

Inaccessible materialEdit

Future of the archiveEdit

CADN continues to release catalogues of its collections.

Research proceduresEdit


To use the archive, you should email the archive directly in order to confirm the availability of the documents you need to use and to inform them of your visit. A week to 10 days before is useful both for you and for them. In order to use the archive, you only need your passport and, possibly, a student ID.

First visitEdit

(what happens when you first come to the archives?)

Permitted and prohibited itemsEdit

  • Permitted: laptop computers, cameras, pens
  • Prohibited: bags, scanners are prohibited in theory, though their use has been observed

Document orderingEdit

You can order up to 7 boxes/items per day and they will be stored in the back for you for 2 weeks. You can only be looking at one item at a time. The documents are ordered the day before. They need to be ordered before 1pm if you want them at 9am the next day and before 3:45pm if you want them by 1pm the next day. Documents are requested by filling out the white request forms located at the main desk and the catalogs area next to it.

Ordering classified materialEdit

(what special permission is necessary?)

Document deliveryEdit

Documents arrive the next day and you pick them up at the main desk. You can consult 1 at a time. When you are finished with an item, you return it to the main desk. If you think you may want to look at it again, ask them to hold it for you by filling out a green slip.

Photocopying, photography, microfilmingEdit

(what are costs, permits, and page limits? how long do you have to wait?)

Key formsEdit

(what are the main forms that the archive uses? if possible, provide links to copies or post copies directly)

Key individualsEdit

Archive staffEdit

Anne-Sophie Cras, one of the main archivists, is tremendously resourceful. And Sylvie and Emmanuelle who also work the front desk are friendly and can help steer you through the process. They also both speak a bit of English if your spoken French is far rustier than your reading French.


(scholars who are familiar with this archive)


(published works based on research at this archive)



Nantes is a good place to eat, but the area around the archives is a bit of a culinary wasteland. Vending machines in the "lounge" sell drinks, coffee, and the like. There is a grocery store to the west, where de Castelnau meets rue des Chalâtres. Further north on des Chalâtres, at a roundabout, there is a bar that serves lunch. East of the archives, on Route de Sainte-Luce, there is a bakery that sells sandwiches. The park on Ernest Dalby, just south of the archives, is a nice spot to eat lunch.


Tokens are provided to lock the small lockers at the entrance to the archive.


The archive's washrooms feature sleek, space-age design.


Public transportation in Nantes is excellent. Two buses pass within two minutes of the archives--details here. The walk from the tramway is a bit longer--fifteen minutes. Bicycles are an excellent way to get around, and can be rented inexpensively at any municipal parking garage (there is one next door to the train station).

Internet accessEdit

Free internet access is available via a computer terminal in the reading room.



A small number of publications, produced by the friends of the archives and the archivists, are available for purchase in the reading room.

See alsoEdit

(links to relevant websites and resources)