YMCA France

France – National Council of YMCAs

Date of foundation of the YMCA: 1851
Membership Status: Full Member
Full member of the World Alliance of YMCAs since: 1855

Brief YMCA History

1850s : the first YMCAs are created across France under the name of UCJG (Unions Chrétiennes de Jeunes Gens) by young protestants : in Paris, the regions of Dauphiné, Alsace, Cévennes, Normandie, Pays de Montbéliard.

1855 : the YMCA France are co-founders of the World Alliance, with the signature of the Paris Basis.

1867 : the french associations come together under a national federation.
They develop libraries, evening classes, cultural activities : acting, music, etc…

They also give access to sports activities and open gymnasiums : volley-ball, indoor swimming pools.

Basketball is introduced in 1893 and becomes rapidly popular in the country. Today, the oldest basketball court in the world – a classified monument – is situated in the YMCA Union de Paris, the exact replica of the original one built in Springfield, USA.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the YMCAs get involved in outdoors activities, contributing largely to the development in France of camping, trekking, scoutism (Eclaireurs Unionists in 1911).

During WW1, along with american and british YMCAs, they provide lodging, entertaining and sports activities to allied soldiers in France. The UCJG in Paris is used as a military hospital.

In 1909, they start providing programs for refugees and founds the Cimade (migrants) in 1939 with other protestant youth movements.

They are also founding members of several non-profit organizations : France Volontaires (volunteering), CNAJEP (non-formal education), UNAT (Tourism), UCPA (sports), Coordination pour l’éducation à la non-violence et à la paix (education for non-violence).

They extend progressively their programs to meet the needs of people facing special difficulties (access to employment, disabilities, poverty, family break-up, etc.).

The UCJG – YMCA French Alliance is a state approved association since 1947.
It represents the YMCA movement at the UNESCO in Paris.

Mission Statement

With the aim of building a human community of justice and solidarity, the movement strives to foster dialogue and partnership between people of different origins, cultures, faiths and opinions, physical and mental capacities.

In the vacation centers as well as in youth residences, our programs and activities aim at empowering young people : to develop their autonomy and to allow them to take increased responsibilities at all levels.
All are encouraged to reach their full potential and lead their lives to the fullest while contributing to a better world. It applies a holistic approach : helping youth to develop in mind, spirit and body.

Main Programmes

 The YMCA French Alliance represents 23 associations.

Focused on young people, YMCA France has progressively extended their programs to adults, espacially vulnerable people facing difficulties in housing, employability, health or linked to their recent arrival in the country.

110 000 people are welcomed each year.

The YMCAs are involved in three main areas :

  • Social tourism : hostels & accommodations at affordable prices, discovery classes, school trips, holiday camps, youth hostels, etc.
  • Insertion : assistance to housing, support for employment and adapted employment, reception and accompaniment of migrants (asylum seekers and refugees …), training, support for people with disabilities.
  • Youth & non-formal education : youth camps and exchanges, volunteering (civic service missions in France and abroad). A special emphasis is put on international exchange programs, bringing together youth from different countries. YMCA France also offers Summer Camps and Camp Counselors programs with its partners in the USA.


  • Social Tourism

Alter’Hostel (Lyon)

Centre Azur (Sanary-sur-Mer)

Le Ciarus (Strasbourg)

Le Core (Agon-Coutainville)

Le Cluquet (Cauterets)

Fossé des Treize – Salm (Alsace)

Le Rocheton (La Rochette)

Schiltigheim – Maison d’Echery (Alsace)

Val de l’Hort (Anduze)

Villeneuve-Lez-Avignon (Avignon)

  • Insertion

Colmar (Alsace)


Jeunesse en Action (Reunion Island)

Le Rocheton (La Rochette)

Union de Paris (Paris)

UCRM (Toulouse)


YMCA Tourcoing

YMCA Home & Baby Synergie et Gironde (Bordeaux)

  • Culture

Club Agallio

  • Associations organizing camps

YMCA Loire

YMCA Alsace


Alliance Nationale des YMCA France

5 Place de Vénétie, 75013 Paris, France
Tel: +33 (0) 1 45 83 62 63

E-Mail: secretariat.national@ymca.fr
General Secretary: Mrs Alexandra Box – a.box@ymca.fr
President: Mr. Bernard Marion

On-line presence