France and Louisville have been connected since the city's beginning. Louisville's namesake was a French monarch--the ill-fated Louis XVI. The first settlers of Louisville of second and third-generation French American-born Huguenots that immigrated to America in 1685 following the Edict of Nantes. La Salle's expeditions brought him to the Louisville area and was one of the first surveyors of the Falls of the Ohio.
A French outpost pre-existed the city of Louisville called Le Belle. The French came to the area in three initial waves in the 18th century. The first wave was the previously mentioned Huguenot descendants who settled in the areas of modern Louisville and New Albany, Indiana. The second wave came during the American Revolution, though many returned to France after the fighting was done. The third wave was during the French Revolution as many members of the nobility and clergy fled France for America. Many of these immigrants were influential to the growth of Portland and Shippingport.
In the 19th century, French immigrants came along with the large waves of Germans and Irish in between 1830-1850. Many of these immigrants settled in Jefferson County in Kentucky and Floyd County in Indiana.
Many of these French settlers became important to the history of Louisville. Thomas Bullitt was one of the earliest surveyors of the area. Aaron Fontaine established a ferry system that would become Fontaine Ferry, which would become the famous Fontaine Ferry Park amusement park. In 1782 two French businessmen--Jean Honore and Bethelemi Tardiveau--began a business in Shippingport which became an important trading hub for New Orleans shipping. James Berthoud chartered the Bank of Kentucky and started the city's second insurance agency His son, Nicholas Berthoud, was a charter member of the Louisville and Portland Canal.
Louisville's French connection is also visible outside of Louisville Metro Hall where a statue of Louis XVI stands. The statue was a gift from Louisville's first Sister City, Montpelier, in 1967. Also the symbol of the city is the flur-de-lis; the symbol of the former rulers of France.