Latvian Association of France

The Latvian Association of France (LAF) - L'Union Lettone en France – is a social organisation registered in Paris on July 10, 1947.  
The LAF mission is to support the Latvian identity and culture, language and traditions between Latvians, promote liaison with Latvia, popularise Latvian culture in France and promote cooperation between Latvia and France.
The LAF is a member of the European Latvians’ Union (ELA) that, in its turn, is represented in the World Association of Free Latvians (PBLA).
The LAF work leads the Board elected by the association members. The Board is elected to 2 years and it consists of 9 people. The current Board was elected on November 2013 and its terms are until the autumn of 2015.
The Board Chairman of the Latvian Association of France is Sandra Šūmane.


Latvians living in France gathered together in already first half of the last century. From 1929 to 1940 the Paris Latvian Society existed in France.

After the World War II on March 26, 1946 the Envoy of Latvia in France Dr. Oļģerts Grosvalds and secretary Kārlis Bērends established Latvian Aid Committee in France (LPKF). The LPKF was registered in the Ministry of Interior on July 10, 1947 with an aim to take care of Latvians in France; later also war prisoners. In 1954 the LPKF was transformed to the Latvian Association of France (LAF). Latvian communities were established not only in Paris, but also in other towns of France – Lyon, Strasbourg, Forbach, Landes region.

The LPKF – later LAF work has managed the chairmen: Emīls Vīgrābs (1948), Tālivaldis Ķeniņš (1949), Dr. Aleksandrs Okolo - Kulaks (1950), Augusts Šveics (1951), Herberts Pestmalis (1952 - 1954), Edgars Lappuķe (1954 – 1968),  Alģirts Vilks (1968-1970), Ernests Bonaparts (1970 – 1981), Elza Abraham and Kārlis Bērends (1981-1991), Andis Drāznieks (1991-2001),  Juris Bergs (2001 – 2013).

In already first years of the work the LPKF/LAF has filled its stated aims as much as possible not only in solving Latvian fugitives and war prisoners’ administrative and material problems, offering the Red Cross aid, but also promoting gathering of Latvians in different celebrations and culture events. The informative bulletin “Latvian News in France” and Latvian national dance ensemble were established and the Baltic painting exhibitions were organised. Latvians’ artistic life in Paris managed the LAF clerk Juris Staune, but the music world – Board members Tālivaldis Ķeniņš and Aleksandrs Okolo-Kulaks. In Moreix parish in the Vilks family household the ministers E. Lappuķe and E. Zieds in 1955 and 1956 organised children summer camps that finished with the confirmation. In Lyon H. Misiņš, „Miku Tēvs“, organised youth literary work competition “Youth Corner” that was published in the newspaper “Latvian News in France”. The minister E.Lappuķe took care of the Evangelically Lutheran Latvian parish that was dissipated in whole France. The Ladies’ Committee was working. The ladies selflessly took care of the hospitality in the public events.

Close cooperation established between the LAF, Latvian Evangelically Lutheran parish, Daugava Hawks and European Latvians’ Youth Union’s Department. They had not only common aim, but also the conviction that one should not only mark out his own group’s work, but also work for one’s nation and Latvia.

In 1987 the LAF Board members together with representatives from other countries established Latvian centre „Abrene“. Approximately 1000 Latvians from whole world were involved to buy the castle in the Loire Valley Huismes. However, in 1993 the castle was sold to meet liabilities. In its short lifetime the „Abrene“project proved the desire of the Latvians living abroad to maintain its identity and culture and proved that it is not necessary to be in large number to start doing something. With the Awakening it was „Abrene“, where on May of 1989 the first meeting of the Popular Front of Latvia and the PBLA took place. Were organised Latvian artists’ and folklore singers’ performances to the French audience and Ligo celebration for large number of people.

The LAF in its working years has especially celebrated Latvian State Independence Day; it has always celebrated also Ligo Festival. When Latvia joined the European Union, the LAF supported different cultural events in Paris and its province towns. Traditionally the support is offered to different Latvian culture and art events.

The chairman of Daugava Hawks A. Krūmiņš has collected Latvians’ history in France in four volume book „Exile Land – France” that was published with the support of the PBLA.


Every year the LAF organises Latvian State Independence Day celebrations, Ligo evening, Latvian films’ evenings and other culture events. The LAF newsletter – magazine is being published and it is available on the LAF Home page.

The LAF ensures the information circulation about Latvian social and culture life in France, support the LAF Home page and Facebook profile, prepare the information about Latvia for the interesents.

The Association supports the Latvian Saturday School „Garā Pupa” and Paris Latvian Choir.


Union Lettone en France, 16 rue Royer Collard, 75005, Paris

Tel.: 33 0 1 43 54 59 69

E-mail: info@latviesifrancija.org

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