French immigration to Mexico
|Regions with significant populations|
|Mexico, Morelos, Veracruz, Jalisco, Sinaloa, Puebla, Guanajuato|
|Mexican Spanish. Minority speaks French language.|
|Predominantly Roman Catholicism|
|Related ethnic groups|
|French people, French American, French Canadian, French Brazilian, French Argentine, French Chilean, French Peruvian, French Puerto Ricans|
A French Mexican (French: Franco-Mexicain, Spanish: franco-mexicano or galo-mexicano) is a Mexican citizen of full or partial French ancestry. Mexicans of French descent make up the second largest European descended group in Mexico, after Spanish Mexicans.
French immigration to Mexico started after Mexico became an independent country in 1821, as foreign immigration was prohibited by Spanish authorities under the colonial regime. The first wave of French immigration to Mexico occurred in the 1830s, following the country's recognition by France, with the foundation of a French colony on the Coatzacoalcos River, in the state of Veracruz. In total, 668 settlers were brought from France to populate the colony. Most of them went back to France as the project of colonization failed, but some permanently settled in Mexico. In 1833, another colony was founded in the state of Veracruz as well, under the name of Jicaltepec. A second wave of French immigration came to Mexico at the end of the 1840s, during the California Gold Rush (at the time gold was discovered, California was still part of the Mexican territory). As a consequence, in 1849 French represented the second foreign community in Mexico after Spaniards. Between 1850 and 1914, Mexico received 11,000 French immigrants.
French people in modern Mexico form the fourth largest immigrant community in Mexico after Americans, Lebanese and Spaniards. There are around 9,500 French nationals registered in Mexico and about 6,000 to 7,000 Frenchmen unregistered. Two thirds of them are Mexicans of French ancestry holding double nationality. Many Mexicans of French descent live in cities and states such as Zacatecas, San Luis Potosí, Aguascalientes, Veracruz, Guanajuato, Guadalajara, Puebla, Queretaro and Mexico City.
Second Mexican Empire
Most French Mexicans descend from immigrants and soldiers that settled in Mexico during the Second Mexican Empire, headed by Maximilian I of Mexico and masterminded by Emperor Napoleon III of France in the 1860s to create a Latin empire in the New World (indeed responsible for coining the term or Amérique latine, or 'Latin America'). Emperor Maximilian's consort, Carlota of Mexico, a Belgian princess, was a granddaughter of Louis-Philippe of France.
The largest wave of immigration from France to Mexico came from the city of Barcelonnette, in Alpes-de-Haute-Provence. Between 1850 and 1950, 5,000 to 6,000 inhabitants of the Ubaye Valley immigrated to Mexico. Many established textile businesses between Mexico and France. While 90% stayed in Mexico, some returned to Barcelonette, and from 1880 to 1930, built grand mansions called Maisons Mexicaines and left a mark upon the city. Today, there are 60,000 descendants of the "Barcelonnettes".
French settlement in Veracruz
In 1833, 98 persons coming from Haute-Saône, Haute-Marne, Côte-d'Or and Yonne settled in a colony called Jicaltepec, in the state of Veracruz. In 1874, the community resettled on the other bank of the river, in San Rafael. From 1880 to 1900 the population of the colony grew from 800 to 1,000 inhabitants. There are now around 10,000 French Mexicans in the state of Veracruz.
Involvement in World War II
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Jean René Champion, a Mexican of French ancestry, was the first Free French Forces (Forces Françaises Libres) officer to enter Paris on the day when the city was liberated from the Nazis on August 26, 1944.
French contributions to Mexican society
The French introduced cultural traits adopted by the Mexican culture and may have helped coin the term “Mariachi”, though it is not certain. The word “Mariachi” may have originated during French Napoleonic rule in the 1860s since French settler families used the music during weddings(marriage). Clark attributes this to "phonetic coincidence" (Clark, 1996). An important culinary contribution was the bolillo, which is now widely used for the torta.
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- Luis G. Abbadie, Mexican writer.
- Ángel Navarro, French-born leading Spanish settler in New Spain.
- Montserrat Olivier, Mexican actress, television presenter and former fashion model.
- León Aillaud, Mexican Governor of Veracruz.
- Laurette Séjourné, Italian-born Mexican archeologist and ethnologist of French descent.
- José Youshimatz, Mexican-born American retired track cyclist and road bicycle racer of French descent.
- Frédéric-Yves Jeannet, French-born Mexican writer and professor.
- Elizabeth Katz, Mexican actress and former model of French descent.
- Linda Christian, Mexican movie actress of French descent.
- Gustavo Huet, Mexican-born American athlete of French descent.
- Eugenio Toussaint, Mexican composer, arranger and jazz musician.
- Eugène Goupil, French-born Mexican philanthropist and collector.
- Roberto Heinze Flamand, Mexican sprint canoer of French descent.
- Miirrha Alhambra, French-born Mexican pianist.
- Ramón Arnaud, Mexican Army and the last Mexican governor of Clipperton Island of French descent.
- Alberto Baillères, Third richest man in Mexico.
- Alberto Ruz Lhuillier, French-born Mexican archaeologist.
- Emilio Azcárraga Jean, Mexican businessman of French descent.
- Francisco Romano Guillemin, Mexican artist of French descent.
- Pita Amor, Mexican poet of French descent.
- Aracely Arámbula, Mexican actress, model and singer of French and Basque descent.
- Ralph Heinze, Mexican sprint canoer of French descent.
- Saturnino Herrán, Mexican painter.
- Claude Heller, Mexican Ambassador for Mexico of German and French descent.
- Manuel Clouthier, Mexican businessman and politician
- Tatiana Clouthier, Mexican politician, writer and entrepreneur.
- Edgar de Evia, Mexican-born American photographer.
- Ignacio Comonfort, Mexican politician and military officer, 25th President of Mexico to French parent.
- Lourdes Grobet, Mexican photographer.
- Elena Poniatowska, French-born Mexican journalist and author of Polish, French and Mexican nobility descent.
- Eduardo Troconis, Mexican race car driver.
- Michelito Lagravere, Mexican child bullfighter to French father.
- Antonio Enríquez Savignac, Mexican politician.
- Angelique Boyer, Mexican, French born telenovela actress.
- Luis Ernesto Michel, Mexican goalkeeper for Chivas de Guadalajara of French descent on his fathers side.
- La tentation mexicaine en France au XIXème siècle. "Les colons - 668 au total."
- "Le moment mexicain dans l'histoire française de l'aventure". "La conséquence de cette émigration fut que, en 1849, les Français représentaient la deuxième nationalité étrangère au Mexique, derrière les Espagnols."
- México Francia. "(p. 91) Para México, esta fuente indica que entre 1850 y 1914 llegaron más de 11 mil personas."
- "La communauté française du Mexique". "une communauté française relativement importante -la quatrième communauté étrangère du pays après les Américains, les Libanais et les Espagnols- comportant environ 9 500 immatriculés (9 321 en 1997) auxquels s'ajoutent 6 000 à 7 000 non-immatriculés."
- "Les Barcelonnettes au Mexique". "Ainsi entre 1850 et 1950, 6000 à 7000 habitants de l'Ubaye ont quitté leur pays pour le Mexique."
- "Les Barcelonnettes au Mexique". "On estime à 60 000 les descendants des Barcelonnettes, dispersés sur tout le territoire mexicain."
- La colonisation française de Jicaltepec, Veracruz