After eight appearances with the Monaco reserve side, he made his Ligue 1 debut for the principality side on September 16, 2000. Monaco won the match 3-0 against Toulouse.
However, Abidal would only make a total of 22 appearances for the team in his debut season in the top flight before signing for Lille for a couple of seasons. He would take his game to a new level under the tutelage of manager Claude Puel during his two seasons with Lille, for whom he made 62 appearances in two seasons.
In the summer of 2004, Abidal was signed up by his home side Lyon. Abidal played for Lyon for three seasons from 2004 to 2007. His first goal at top level came on November 10, 2004 as he scored in a 2-3 loss against his former club Lille in the Coupe de la Ligue.
His exploits for Lyon drew admiring glances from then Barcelona manager Frank Rijkaard. Rijkaard convinced club president Joan Laporta to spend nine million Euros in order to seal Abidal’s transfer in the summer of 2007.
Abidal would go on to become a popular figure in the Barcelona dressing room during his stay with the Catalan giants. Barcelona finished third in the league in his debut season at the club after he had made his debut in a goalless draw against Racing Santander on August 26, 2007.
His second season at Barcelona saw the club win the treble in their first season under Pep Guardiola. However, Abidal missed the Champions League final to suspension and did not feature in the Copa del Rey final.
Abidal was harshly shown a red card in the Champions League semi-final against Chelsea for a foul on compatriot Nicolas Anelka as video replays showed that Anelka had made a meal out of very minimal contact.
The Frenchman was diagnosed with a tumor in his liver on March 15, 2011. He underwent a surgery soon after with well wishes pouring in from all over the football world, including his home side Lyon and fierce La Liga rivals Real Madrid.
He returned to the Barcelona side that faced Manchester United in the UEFA Champions League final on May 28 that year. Abidal played the full 90 minutes as Barcelona won 3-1. Barcelona captain Carles Puyol handed the armband to Abidal before the trophy presentation and it was Abidal who lifted the trophy for Barcelona in their finest hour at the Wembley in London.
Abidal underwent liver transplant in March 2012 with his cousin Gerard being the donor. He completed a successful return to football on April 6, 2013 as he replaced Gerard Pique for the final 20 minutes of a 5-0 home win against Mallorca.
After a trophy laden few years at Barca, Abidal would go on to play for a season at Monaco and a few months at Olympiacos before calling time on a glittering career during which he had also earned 67 caps for France.