L'Arche was founded in France in 1964 by the Canadian Jean Vanier* (1929-2019). Vanier invited two men living in an overcrowded institution for people with learning disabilities, Raphaël Simi and Philippe Seux, to set up home with him in a small house in the village of Trosly-Breuil (northern France). They were soon joined by other people with and without disabilities.

Together, they developed L’Arche’s distinctive model of community life which, from 1969, would extend across France and around the world.

Today L’Arche is present in thirty-eight countries on five continents, with one hundred and fifty-three communities, eleven of which are in the United Kingdom.


*In 2020, L'Arche discovered, after a thorough and independent investigation, that Jean Vanier had exercised a spiritual and psychological hold on several non-disabled adult women for many years, leading to inappropriate sexual relationships initiated by him. L'Arche publicised and condemned these actions.