In France, researching the history of your house is referred to as généalogie immobilière (real estate genealogy). Lots of people are interested in finding out about the history of their house, and sometimes circumstances mean you are obliged (or at least, well advised) to do so. As a consequence, the Conseil général and the Chambre départementale des notaires d'Indre-et-Loire have produced a booklet outlining how you go about it. The notaire supplied a copy along with our copy of the Acte de Vente.
It tells you how to locate sources of information, what the principal steps involved in the research are, what type of information the various actes contain and how to decode the references.
The first, and the easiest, is to carefully read your deed (acte de propriété or acte de vente) which would have been put together by the notaire at the time of your purchase. It contains the first useful clues and references, indicating whereabouts of previous actes from changes of ownership. For instance, the acte for our house tells me the names, places of birth and occupations of the previous owners to 1945, and whether they acquired the property through purchase, inheritance or gift, as well as other more random seeming pieces of information. Each change of proprietor is listed with a reference to the name of the officiating notaire and which volume and document number the information was lodged under in the files of the Conservateur des Hypothèques in Loches. In time copies or originals of all documents relating to the transfer of property ownership find their way to the main archives in Tour. By visiting the archives reading room and consulting the actes, one will lead you to another, going back in time. As yet, we haven't made the time to do this, but one day...
about the people who constructed these
simple, graceful steps.
The quantity of information in the archives and the network of references should nearly always allow you to discover the history of your house. Sometimes it's not very direct and you have to wade through a maze of records and tiny clues, but you will have fun reconstructing the puzzle and revealing past lives, communities, families, owners and learn quite a bit about how people in the Touraine thought and acted in the past.
The Departmental Archives for Indre-et-Loire are open from Monday to Friday, 9am - 5pm and some Saturdays from 9-11.45. Access to the reading room is free, allowing you to consult the files and inventories. Anyone can consult documents if they hold a Reader's Card (carte de lecteur). Reader's Cards are free and obtained by supplying proof of identity. The Archives can be contacted by email on firstname.lastname@example.org and their website is www.cg37.fr. Historic records are kept at 6 rue des Ursulines 37000 Tours, telephone 02 47 60 88 88 and contemporary records at 41 rue Michaël-Faraday 37170 Chambray-lès-Tours, telephone 02 47 80 89 00. You use the Archives historiques to consult the Contrôle des Actes, the Enregistrement and the Actes notairés that are more than 100 years old. The Archives contemporaines are used to consult the Cadastral records. You may also need to contact the Chambre des notaires d'Indre-et-Loire, 32 rue Richelieu, BP 15953 37059 Tours Cédex, telephone 02 47 05 60 20, email email@example.com, website www.chambre-indreetloire.notaires.fr.