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Exile Destination: France

    After the initial 1755 deportions, England decided to sent the French back to France instead of to the American colonies..  When Louisbourg fell in 1758, over 3000 Acadians from the Ile St. Jean area were exiled to France.  When Quebec fell in 1759, hundreds of prisoners of war were also sent to France.  In 1763, 753 more Acadians arrived from England.  Generally, they lived in poor conditions.  Most lived in coastal cities, though several attempts were made to settle them elsewhere.  When the opportunity came to leave in 1785, over 1500 of them traveled to Louisiana.
1758 to 1763

    Unless they made it their on their own, no Acadians made their way to France at the time of the Exile.  But that changed in 1758.  When Louisburg fell, the Acadians on Ile Royale and Ile St. Jean ... over 3000 of them ... were sent to France.  Their numbers were quickly reduced when 2 of the ships (Violet, Duke William) sank en route.  Hundred more perished at sea or soon after arriving in France.

Ships carrying Acadians deported in 1758 arrived at the French port towns of St. Malo, Brest, and Boulogne-sur-Mer.

Acadians were already nearby at Falmouth and Southampton (England). They had been there since 1756 and would join the Acadians in France in 1763.

     Stephen White is compiling a reconstructed set of ship lists for the Violet and the Duke William.  It is based on the population of Ile St. Jean & Ile Royale before the exile, and those people who disappeared after 1758. 

     The Acadians mainly settled in various small towns around the St. Malo area, such as Chateauneuf, Chateau Malo, Corseul, Dinan, Parame, Piouer, Pleslin, Pleudihen, Pleurtuit, Ploubalay, St. Briac, St. Cast, St. Coulomb, St. Enogat, St. Lunaire, St. Jouan des Guerets, St. Meloir des Ondex, St. Servan, St. Suliac, Taden, Tremereuc, Trigavoux. They were put in 37 different communities..  The photo at right is of the church at Pleurtuit, where some Acadians were married.  But some Acadians were at Cherbourg, Boulogne-sur-Mer, La Havre, Brest (the Britannia debarked Acadians on Oct. 26, 1758), Rochefort, and other coastal cities.
     The group at Boulogne-sur-Mer arrived when their 1758 deportation ship was blown offcourse in a storm.  There were 179 survivors that made it to the port.  The website Les Acadiens de Boulogne-sur-Mer contains more information on this group, including a reconstructed list of the passengers that reached Boulogne.
     The government thought that the Acadians would just blend in with the population.  But it didn't turn out that way.  They went on government welfare at 6 sols a day.  Nivernois proposed a settlement plan that may have worked, but it was ignored by the government. 
     The Acadians in France were joined by 753 Acadians from England, who sailed over in 1763 to Morlaix and St. Malo.
     Francois Roux has a map of their movements around France from 1758-1785.
Church at Pleurtuit
Church at Pleuruit
1764 to 1771
     The Acadians became a pawn in internal government.  A number of plans, all of which were not favorable to the Acadians, were considered and a few attempted.  But generally they called for settling the Acadians on poor land or in terrible climates.  For example, Choiseul had the job in 1762 to populate the tropical colonies and pushed the Acadians to go.  He got several hundred to go to French Guyana.  After an unsuccessful bout with disease and hot weather, the survivors returned to France.  The same results occurred when some Acadians tried to colonize the Falkland Islands.
      In 1765, Etienne Francois, duc de Choiseul Stainville settled some 78 families of Acadians on Belle-Ile-en-Mer.  Due to livestock epidemics, crop failure, drought, and local resistance the colony failed in 7 years.  Some moved back to St. Malo and Morlaix, and some later moved to Nantes.
     1771 brought another scheme, whereby finance minister Terray planned to settle Acadians on Corsica.  The Acadians who went to scout the area found very poor prospects and the plan failed before starting. 
     Evidently, the government had varying viewpoints.  At times, they intended to reward the Acadians for their patriotism (as the Acadians expected).  But at other times they were considered ungrateful peasants who should just blend in.
1772 to 1775
     By 1772, the Acadians had resorted to direct appeals to the king.  Representatives told the king of their plight and asked to go to Spain to make a life for themselves.  The new king (Louis XVI) was moved and directed that a place be found in France for the Acadians. 
     The head of the navy, LeMoyne, ordered a census of Acadians be taken in 1772.  It found 2566 Acadians in France.  They were distributed as follows: 1727-St. Malo, 228-Cherbourg, 179-Morlaix, 166-Le Havre, 103-Belle Ile en Mer, 79-Rochefort, 42-La Rochelle, 27-Lorient, 10-Bordeaux, 3-Paris, 2-Boulogne. [map]
     In 1772, the marquis Perusse des Cars gave the Acadians some of his land to farm.  But the 1472 Acadians who migrated to the Poitou area found sterile soil and no housing.  They had to pay high rent prices in nearby villages.  By 1775, the "La Ligne Acadienne" settlement (as it was called) decided to call it quits. 
     Almost all of the Acadians moved to Nantes, and only 160 were left in the area by the following year.  There were 4 convoys from la ligne Acadienne to Nantes.  The lists can be found in The Acadians in France, Vol. 1 (Milton & Norma Reider).  Francois Roux also has them [1st convoy, 2nd convoy, 3rd convoy, 4th convoy] online at his website. 
     The biggest concentration of Acadians in France for the next 10 years would be at Nantes. Gerard Braud has produced a couple of book on the Acadians in Nantes.  His From Nantes to Louisiana is a small paperback that has also been translated into English.  It is more of a narrative of the story.  Another book he recently produced, Les Acadiens en France: Nantes et Paimboeuf, 1775-1785, contains thousands of people in hundreds of family groups.  It is printed in French and English.
     By now, the successful settlement of Acadians in Louisiana was old news.  Talk began of migrating there also.  But the main concern of the Acadians for the next decade was providing for themselves. 
1776 to 1782
     In 1777, the French minister tried to get them to move to the island of Corsica, but they said no. 
     A small group of 22 Acadians did get permission from the Spanish ambassador to sail to Louisiana in October 1777.  Also, some Acadians at St. Malo and Nantes made their way to the island of Guernsey and then to Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia
1783 to 1785
     About 1783, a Frenchman named Henri Peyroux de la Coudreniere returned to France from Louisiana.  With the help of the Acadian cobbler Olivier Theriot, he worked on recruiting Acadians to move to Louisiana.  At first, France wasn’t cooperative.  After all, Louisiana was now a Spanish colony.  But they finally worked out an agreement in late 1784 and about 1600 Acadians sailed for Louisiana in seven ships in 1785. Six of the ships left from the Nantes/Paimboeuf area.  Another, La Ville d'Archangel, left from St. Malo
1786 =>
     So there were still hundreds of Acadians in France after the last of the seven ships left.  Since the French government saw the success of the migration and stopped the immigration of more Acadians, they were there to stay.  Over the years, some perhaps made the trip to Louisiana and other places.  Those Acadians who stayed in France became assimilated for the most part.  There are still a couple of areas, such as the Poitou area, where you can find people who will readily tell you that they are of Acadian descent.
     There are several organizations today related to Acadians in France.  Some of them are:
          • Les Amities Acadiennes (Paris)
          • Belle-Ile-Acadie (Belle-Isle-en-Mer)
          • Bretagne-Acadie-Louisiane
          • Les Cousins Acadiens du Poitou (Archigny)
          • ChatellerauIt-Quebec (Chatellerault)
          • La Maison de l'Acadie (Loudun)
          • L'Association Regionale de l'Ouest des Amities Acadiennes (Nantes) 
          • Falaise-Québec-Acadie (Vienne)
          • Racines et Rameaux Francais d'Acadie
     The best printed treatment of Acadians in France during 1758 to 1785 can be found in Oscar Winzerling's Acadian Odyssey (1955).
The 1755 Exile
The 1758 Exile
The "End" of the Exile
Exile Destinations
England | Quebec | New Brunswick | Prince Edward Island | Nova Scotia | France
St. Domingue | Martinique | French Guiana | Falkland Islands | St. Pierre & Miquelon | Louisiana
American Colonies
Connecticut | Georgia | Maryland | Massachusetts | New York | Pennsylvania | South Carolina
Copyright © 1997-09 Tim Hebert