Researching in Ile-et-Vilaine, Brittany

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Researching in
Ile-et-Vilaine, Brittany

Family research in French Department 35, Ile-et-Vilaine,
by Joanne Gollandeau

Here are just a few hints to get you started on searching the records of Ille Et Vilaine (department 35).

There are several things that you need to know before you start:

  • For this department, the records and archives for Rennes are held separately and have their own website access. Rennes, however, is very big and pre-revolution parish records are split between the many different churches and hospitals, and unless you know which parish within Rennes your ancester comes from, you may have difficulty finding the records.
  • The website for gaining access to records for Ille et Vilaine is quite complicated to navigate, but is also extremely popular so you could well find that access is denied due to saturation – which can be very frustrating.
  • The records for Saint Malo were destroyed during World War II bombing raids, meaning that about 100 years worth are forever lost – from 1839 onwards. Happily the 10-year indexes, which were held in Rennes, are intact and can be consulted so bare essentials are still available.


The website you needs is:

From this page you have several choices. At an initial stage you will need either Registres Paroissiaux (for records up to 1792) or Etat Civil (for records from 1793).


  • B Bapteme = Baptism
  • M Mariage= Marriage
  • S Sepulture= Funeral

You will need to know which parish or hospital records to search. Click on the name of the parish or hospital and it will open on to a list of dates. Then click on the maginifying glass corresponding to the book you wish to look at. Another hint is that many of the more recent books do have an index at the back – so start by going to the end page >>.


  • Naissances = Birth
  • Mariages = Marriage
  • Décès = Death
  • Tables Decennales = 10 yearly index tables

You need to choose initially which of the above you would like to consult, and then choose the year. Unless you have an exact date, start with the 10-yearly index tables which are in alphabetical order, starting with births, then marriages, then deaths.

Revolutionary calendar

Please note that in the years 1793-1805, the French used their own calendar, different months, different format etc.

If you do come across revolutionary dates 1790 to 1804, a good conversion table is here:

Scroll down to French Revolution and enter the date. The calender consisted of 12 months, each of three weeks of ten days, known as décades (1st to 10th, 11th to 20th and 21st to 30th ) bear this in mind as the records will usaully say 23rd of the month, this is day 3 of décade 3. The other five days have special names and were holidays and also movable (the calander convertor lists the names. New years day was always 22 September.

The rest of Ille et Vilaine

Here, the webiste required is:

or you can google 'Thot Ille-et-Vilaine'

About half way down the page you will see the words Faire une recherche – click on this. There will then appear some icons – you need to click on the second icon along – registres paroissiaux et etat civil.

For the name of the place, it doesn't work to type the name in – so click on the ? - then on the initial of the town/village – then scroll down till positioned on the town/village required and click on valider (you may have to scroll the page down a little to find valider). Add some dates to reduce the amount of books that will come back to you. If you are looking at post-revolution, you can also tick in the box tables to gain access to the 10-yearly indexes. Then click on rechercher.

It should come up with a list of possibles. Sometimes it will appear to have two copies – this is because two copies were provided – one for the town/village, and one for the départment. This is useful if you find that the item you are looking for is spoilt in some way - ie water damaged or faint – then you may be able to find a clearer version in the second document. To consult the document, click on the O in the last column of the corresponding details.

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