Timeline of the French in Florida


On April 30, the French Huguenot sea captain Jean Ribault landed at the mouth of the St. Johns River, near modern-day Jacksonville.


Another Huguenot, Capt. René Goulaine de Laudonnière, founded Fort Caroline (la Caroline) atop St. Johns Bluff in present-day Jacksonville.


In September, the Spanish governor of Florida, Don Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, captured the French-held Fort Caroline and renamed it San Mateo. In October, after being shipwrecked by a storm, Jean Ribault and his comrades were captured and executed by Spaniards at Matanzas Inlet, near St. Augustine.


Dominique de Gourgues, a privateer, led a mercenary French force that attacked, captured and burned San Mateo.


The former Fort Caroline resident Jacques LeMoyne's first-known paintings of Florida were engraved by the Flemish printer and publisher Theodor de Bry and soon appeared for circulation.


Nicholas de Grammont laid unsuccessful siege of St. Augustine. Another group of French corsairs under command of the privateer Nicholas Brigaut entered the Little Matanzas Inlet at the south end of Anastasia Island and seized the watchtower at Ayamon, but soon sailed off.


Capt. Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville surveyed the Florida coast.


The French constructed Fort Crevecoeur ("Broken Heart") at modern-day Beacon Hill (Gulf County) but abandoned it the following year.


The French captured Pensacola from the Spaniards. After changing hands several times, the settlement was finally returned to the Spanish Crown in 1720.


Arrival of the French Huguenots at "Campbell Town" (Escambia County) with the attempt to settle there; abandoned in the end of 1769.


Shipwreck and Adventures of Monsieur Pierre Viaud was published in the aftermath of the Le Tigre brigantine that was shipwrecked in a storm at Dog Island, off the Gulf coast of Florida.


The British held some 400 French seamen and their American allies during the American Revolution in St. Augustine's prison at Castillo de San Marcos.


The British garrison surrendered Fort George in Pensacola to a combined force of French and Spanish troops during the American Revolution.


The French privateer Louis-Michel Aury attacked Spanish Florida from Amelia Island at Fernandina.


Philippe Odet, who would introduce cigar making and grapefruit cultivation to Florida, arrives in what is now Pinellas County.


Marquis de Lafayette, a hero of the American and French revolutions, visits the United States. For his distinguished service, Congress awarded him $200,000 and his choice of a township (36 square miles of land). Lafayette eventually chose a township within present-day Tallahassee.


Rose Francois Felix Marquis de Fougère, the former French consul at Charleston, S.C., contributed a half-column article on "the method of making sugar as recently introduced by the chemists of Paris" in Feb. 14 issue of the East Florida Herald.


Achille Murat, a nephew of French Emperor Napoléon I, settled in St. Augustine. In 1825, he moved to middle Florida where he acquired a plantation (called Lipona) east of Tallahassee. In 1826, Murat married Catherine Daingerfield Willis Gray, the great-grandniece of George Washington. In February 1834, Murat was appointed a judge in Jefferson County.


Napoleon's former general, Simon Bernard, assisted in the design of Fort Pickens (Santa Rosa Island, Pensacola), which was finished in 1834.


In March, the first French settlement near Tallahassee took place in what is now "Frenchtown."


The French-American ornithologist, naturalist and artist John James Audubon visited Key West and Bulow Plantation in Ormond Beach.


The French (honorary) Consulate is established in Apalachicola.


Lafayette County, the 33rd county in the state, was created from parts of Madison County.


The French-born Roman Catholic priest, Jean-Pierre Augustin Marcellin Vérot, was appointed vicar apostolic. He later became the first Bishop of St. Augustine, after the Diocese was created in 1870.


Jules Verne composed a half-humorous novel From the Earth to the Moon, in which he designated the Stone's Hill in "Tampa Town" as a launch site.


Sisters of St. Joseph, from Le Puy-en-Velay, a congregation founded under the guidance of a French Jesuit, arrived in St. Augustine to teach the newly freed slaves.


The St. Augustine Lighthouse was equipped with the French-made Fresnel lenses.


Paul Gaffarel publishes L'Histoire de la Floride française in Paris, France.


Emile Dubois, while promoting his wine business in Tallahassee, publishes an illustrated book, Grape Growing and Wine Making in Florida.


St. Anne des Lacs, a rural shrine, is built by French-speaking Catholics on Lake St. Anne in Polk County.


The Cartier jewelry store was opened on Worth Avenue in Palm Beach.


Alsace native Henri Levi created Normandy Isle from the natural swampy land mass in Biscayne Bay west of 71st Street, Miami Beach.


First doctoral program in French language is offered at the University of Florida in Gainesville.


An original '40 and 8' Merci French rail carbox was placed at the Memorial Park in Holly Hill, Volusia County. A WWII monument from the car was relocated to the Lake Ella area in Tallahassee.


Alliance Française of Jacksonville was founded.


Congress for French Language and Culture was created.


Alliance Française of Orlando was established.


The Audubon House Museum and Tropical Gardens was established by Key West natives, Mitchell and Frances Wolfson.


Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart (the French society, which dates back to 1800s), a Catholic college preparatory day school for girls, was founded in Miami by the namesake Society.


Astérix, the first French satellite, was launched on Nov. 26 at Cape Canaveral .


Alliance Française of Miami (now South Florida) was founded.


The French Heritage Society, dedicated to protecting the French architectural legacy both in France and the United States, was formed. One of the Society's 13 chapters is in Palm Beach.


French-American Chamber of Commerce (FACC) of Florida was formed.


French Consulate in Miami was established.


International Studies program starts at Sunset Elementary and at Carver Middle School.


The Institute on Napoléon and the French Revolution was formally established at the Department of History, Florida State University.


Winthrop-King Institute for Contemporary French and Francophone Studies was founded at the Department of Modern Languages, FSU.


France decides to award WWII American veterans with the Legion of Honor decoration. In 2012, around 900 veterans have received this award.


Napoléon: An Intimate Portrait, a rare artifacts exposition assembled by Pierre-Jean Chalençon, displayed at the Museum of Florida History (February-April).


First edition of the Miami French Week, an unique event created to promote the French presence in South Florida. Miami French Week draws in more and more participants and possible business connections.


Alliance Française building, designed by the French-American architect Yann Weymouth, is built in Miami.

Present Time Around 30,000 French nationals live in Florida, while every year hundreds of thousands of French tourists come to discover the Sunshine State. There are currently nearly 400 large and small French companies in Florida that employ more than 18,000 American citizens.

Florida Department of State, Division of Historical Resources
Tallahassee, 2012