From the au pair residence to the meeting centre of protestant churches in Europe

The red stone built house in the 86, rue de Gergovie was always marked by christian life. When the House was built around the penultimate turn of the century, it accommodated for about 60 years a Catholic brotherhood, which was forced to sell the building due to a lack of request.

The acquirer was the “Rheinische Gesellschaft für innere Mission”, who had been looking for a longtime for a suitable property in Paris. This was the beginning of the Foyer le Pont as a residence for au pair girls in October 1968. The Foyer le Pont gave au pair girls a place of refuge in time of need. The Foyer worked also as an au pair agency so that many young German women who came to Paris, stayed in the Foyer before being placed in the families; first, this association was called “association of the friends of young girls” which was renamed “association for international youth work” in the 1970s. This association is still active in au pair work today under the same name. The German Protestant Church in Paris was also involved from the beginning as support of the ecclesiastical political project. Shortly after the opening, it was obvious that the 50 beds were not needed entirely by au pair girls so that the house became also accessible to female students and young female workers from Germany and abroad who worked in Paris (mostly in German branches). The maximum length of stay was two years. Because of the attractive cultural programme, many more young people became interested in the Foyer le Pont. By the way, Ingrid Heinrich, the first director of the foyer was awarded the federal cross of merit in 1979 for her work in the French-German context.

In the course of the German reunification and the European integration, as well as the changed perception of the churches concerning young German women abroad, the association was recreated by the French Association Law (1901). Since then, the Association „Association Foyer le Pont“ is based on a partnership between the Protestant Church in the Rhineland, the Diaconia Rheinland-Westfalen-Lippe, the „Eglise Protestante Unie de France (E.P.U.F.)“ and the German Protestant Church (Christuskirche) in Paris. After reconstruction works, the Foyer le Pont was reopened in February 1998 as „Meeting centre of Protestant churches in Europe“ and offers now christian groups the opportunity of meetings and exchange between churches. Since August 2006 the “Action Reconciliation Service for Peace – ASF” has its office in the Foyer le Pont.

Presidents of the association:

Marc Richalot

Christian Drägert

since 2013
Markus Schaefer