The association is of English origin: the first club was founded in London in 1903. Its founder, Constance Smedley, a cultured and visionary young woman, wanted to bring together young women interested in intellectual and artistic disciplines. This was a new initiative in the early 20th century, when such clubs were only available to men.

 She chose the name « Lyceum » derived from the Greek word « Lukeion » and used in New York to designate a place of culture and reflection.

The success of the London club led to the creation of the Berlin club in 1905, the Paris club in 1906 and other clubs in Europe and around the world.

In France, many clubs have been created since the Second World War: Bordeaux (1959), Fontainebleau-Ile de France (1962), Orléans (1967), Dijon-Bourgogne (1979), Bretagne (1981), Troyes-Champagne (1985), Limoges (1992), Caen-Normandie and Pau-Béarn (1996), Grenoble and Saint-Barthélémy (1997), Lyon (2003), Lille-Flandre and Marseille (2010), Vannes-South-Bretagne (2020), and Bretagne-Côte d’Emeraude (2021)

At the same time, in 1963, the French Federation of Lyceum Clubs was created.

Its aim is to strengthen the links between the clubs, in accordance with the founding principles of the International Association of Lyceum Clubs, to settle questions common to these clubs, to provide them with the information and means necessary for their proper functioning, to propose joint actions, to represent them before the International Association of Lyceum Clubs and to encourage the creation of new clubs.

The Federation is administered by a board elected for three years. It is composed of a President, a Vice-President, a Secretary and a Treasurer. This board is assisted by one or two national Webmasters.

The French Federation currently has 16 clubs with approximately 1000 members. It is one of the most active with permanent recruitment and projects to create new clubs. It maintains close relations with the IACL, whose current president is French, and with other national federations. It has regularly organised international events, cultural meetings or triennial congresses.