In 1918, Captain Langlois, a French sea Captain who had earlier visited Akaroa, established the Nanto-Bordelaise Company, and in 1840 set sail for New Zealand with a small contingent of French and German families with the intention of establishing a French Colony. By the time they arrived in August 1840 on the ship Comte de Paris, the Treaty of Waitangi had been signed, and the French found themselves in what was now a British colony. Not wishing to return, the French and German emigrants established themselves around Akaroa Harbour, and were later to be joined by British settlers.

The town has numerous historic buildings all with a short walking distance either on or near the two main streets Rue Lavaud and Rue Jolie.