Let's take a look at the Departmental Archives for Calvados in Normandy (here). On the right side of the webpage you will find the following box:
You will want to click on the second item down "Les archives numérisées en ligne". This will take you to a page that lists their online collections. There are two sets of resources. The resources of most interest to genealogists are in orange and unfortunately you must pay in order to access them ("Nos consultations payantes"). The three collections that require payment are:
- REGISTRES PAROISSIAUX ET D'ETAT CIVIL - Parish registers from the 16th century including baptism, marriage and burial records up to 1792 and civil registers since 1792 with birth, marriage and death records
- CADASTRE NAPOLEONIEN - Land maps first instituted by Napoleon
- LISTE NOMINATIVES - Censuses
Next, click the "consulter" button for "registres paroissiaux et d'état civil", probably the most important collection for genealogists.
Now, let's take a look at the search form.
The first heading is "Vous connaissez le lieu?", "Do you know the place?". In the first box you enter the commune you want to search for records in. If you don't know what a commune is check this post. Under that box is a pull-down menu that will let you search by all the parishes and institutions in that commune. For a large city you will have many choices, while a small commune may have only one parish.
Under the second heading you can search for a commune in an alphabetical list by clicking on the link in green.
Under the third heading, we can limit our search by date. You can put a single year in the box marked "Exacte" or a range starting with "Début" and ending with "Fin".
Finally, we have the heading "types d'actes", "types of records". Here are the key terms:
- Baptême - Baptism
- Mariage - Marriage
- Sépulture - Burial
- Naissance - Birth
- Décès - Death
- Table décennale - (an index for civil records covering a ten year period)
If you are still struggling you can use Google Translate, you simply need to enter the URL. One limitation is that it will only translate regular text, not text in images.