The Réseau français des instituts d'études avancées (RFIEA) was created by decree in March 2007, as a charitable foundation for scientific cooperation.

Against a backdrop of profound changes in research, France decided to create its own Instituts d'Études Avancées (IEAs) - institutions with a proven track record in the European and international scientific panorama (Princeton, Berlin, Jerusalem, Wassenaar...) - and opted to network four newly-created institutes in major French cities: the Collegium in Lyon, the Institut d'Études Avancées in Nantes, the Institut Méditerranéen de Recherches Avancées in Marseille, and the Institut d'Études Avancées in Paris.

In 2012, RFIEA was promoted to the status of Laboratory of Excellence (Labex RFIEA+), with the aim of strengthening its member institutes of advanced study.