1883 “The National Association for the Propagation of the French Language in the Colonies and Abroad” is created under the aegis of the ambassador, Paul Cambon.
1884 10 March is the true starting date of the Alliance Française of Paris. Many distinguished names feature on the Board of Directors, names such as the diplomat Ferdinand de Lesseps, chemist and biologist Louis Pasteur, writers Ernest Renan and Jules Verne, and publisher Armand Colin. Barcelona is the first European Alliance Française. The network in Spain will expand very rapidly. Africa also jumps on the bandwagon, as a pioneering branch of the Alliance is opened in Senegal. Another branch opens in Mauritius later that same year. Thanks to the inspired efforts of a group of friends, an Alliance Française is set up in Mexico. The enthusiasm of Latin America is not just a passing fancy.
1886 The Alliance Française is given official government approval.
1889 Asia swiftly follows the general trend, creating the first Alliance Française in India.
1890 An art teacher, Berthe Mouchette, sets up the first Australian Alliance Française in Melbourne.
1901 The Alliance Française of Paris opens its doors to 516 students.
1902 The same year sees the first Alliance Française set up at McGill University in Montreal and the foundation of the Federation of the Alliances Françaises in America.
1904 There are 150 Alliance Française associations in France and 450 abroad.
1917 The first Alliance in the West Indies is established in the Dominican Republic.
1919 The French language school “L’École pratique de langue française” is opened at 101 boulevard Raspail in Paris.
1930 There are now 4,800 students at the school in Paris.
1936 Following a period of crisis, the first signs of recovery begin to appear. The exhibition on the teaching of French as a foreign language attracts about a thousand visitors.
1943 To mark the 60th anniversary of the Alliance Française, General de Gaulle makes an historic speech in Algiers, in which he reaffirms its vocation.
1944 The Paris school opens its doors again after a long period of closure during the time of the Nazi occupation.
1948 The French language school in Paris (L’École pratique) has built back up to its pre-war capacity.
1952 The Paris school is named “École internationale de langue et de civilisation françaises” (The International School of French Language and Culture).
1967 After the completion of renovation works, 101 boulevard Raspail is now on two levels. The Georges Duhamel centre is inaugurated. The capacity of the school is thus doubled.
1979 A record year in which 32,000 students register for courses in Paris.
1980 The Alliance Française is now established in 80 different countries.
1983 The centenary of the Alliance is celebrated in the presence of the French President, François Mitterrand.
1999 The International School in Paris welcomes students coming from 187 different countries.
2000 The Alliance Française is now established in 138 countries and has 1,135 associations worldwide.
Alliance Française is a not-for-profit organisation devoted to the teaching of the French language and the spread of French and Francophone culture. It is made up of a network of some 1000 centres, large and small, in over 130 countries worldwide which reflect a desire amongst local francophiles to share their love of French language and culture with others. Branches of Alliance Française are incorporated associations set up under local law and have true autonomy, while benefiting from a well-known and internationally respected brand. They are administered by local committees and the largest ones in major cities are run by executive directors appointed from Paris.
Internationally, all Alliances Françaises enjoy the support of the Alliance Française Foundation, created as a public utility in France on 26 July 2007. The Foundation (www.fondation-alliancefr.org), which approves the constitution of each of its member Alliances, exists to modernise the historical mission of the Alliance Française, founded in 1883, with the aim of increasing understanding of French language and culture by sharing this task with well-known international partners and through providing expertise, training and advice to branches in all five continents.
The first Australian Alliance Française was founded in Melbourne in 1890. There are now 30 branches, including one in each of the major capital cities (Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney) and twenty-four in regional Australia: 11 in New South Wales, 1 in the Northern Territory, 7 in Queensland, 3 in Tasmania and 2 in Victoria.
The Alliance Française of Armidale Inc was founded in 1960, being thus one of the oldest regional branches in Australia. Run by volunteers, it provides language classes at various levels, social events and celebratory meals, as well as opportunities for members to practise their French informally. It has recently extended its teaching by creating short courses of French for Travellers and French for Children.