French Mexicans

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French Mexicans
Total population
5.782 French residents in Mexico.[1][2]
30,000[3]—60,000 descendants[4]
Regions with significant populations
Central Mexico
Majority Mexican Spanish. Minority speaks French.
Predominantly Roman Catholicism
Related ethnic groups
French diaspora

French Mexicans (French: Franco-Mexicains, Spanish: franco-mexicanos or Spanish: galo-mexicanos) are Mexican citizens of full or partial French ancestry. French nationals make up the second largest European immigrant group in Mexico, after Spaniards.

Migration history[edit]

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.[citation needed] 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.[5] 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.[6] Between 1850 and 1914, Mexico received 11,000 French immigrants.[7]

According to the 2010 Census, French people form the second largest European emigrant community in Mexico after Spaniards,[8] and eleventh overall immigrant community.[8] There are around 9,500 French nationals[9] 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[edit]

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 "Barcelonnettes"[edit]

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[10] 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".[4]

French settlement in Veracruz[edit]

French home in Paso de Telaya, San Rafael, Veracruz.

In 1833, 98 persons[11] 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[edit]

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.

The Art Nouveau Palacio de Hierro in Orizaba, Veracruz was designed by Gustave Eiffel.[12]

French contributions to Mexican society[edit]

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.[13] The French also heavily influenced Mexico's pan dulce.


There are two French international schools in Mexico:

Notable French-Mexicans[edit]

Clothing worn by 19th century French migrants

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Estadísticas históricas de México 2009 Archived 1 February 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Censo de Población y Vivienda 2010
  3. ^ México en los Alpes: la migración francesa, Algarabía, 7 April 2015. Retrieved 19 June 2020.
  4. ^ a b "Les Barcelonnettes au Mexique". Archived from the original on 9 December 2007. Retrieved 21 January 2009. On estime à 60 000 les descendants des Barcelonnettes, dispersés sur tout le territoire mexicain.
  5. ^ La tentation mexicaine en France au XIXème siècle. Les colons - 668 au total.
  6. ^ "Le moment mexicain dans l'histoire française de l'aventure" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 December 2014. La conséquence de cette émigration fut que, en 1849, les Français représentaient la deuxième nationalité étrangère au Mexique, derrière les Espagnols.
  7. ^ México Francia. (p. 91) Para México, esta fuente indica que entre 1850 y 1914 llegaron más de 11 mil personas.
  8. ^ a b "Conociendo...nos todos: Censo de Población y Vivienda 2010" [Knowing ... us all: Population and Housing Census 2010] (PDF). INEGI (in Spanish). May 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 April 2013. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  9. ^ "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.
  10. ^ "Les Barcelonnettes au Mexique". Archived from the original on 9 December 2007. Retrieved 21 January 2009. Ainsi entre 1850 et 1950, 6000 à 7000 habitants de l'Ubaye ont quitté leur pays pour le Mexique.
  11. ^ La colonisation française de Jicaltepec, Veracruz Archived 25 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Noble, John (2010). Mexico. Lonely Planet. p. 627. ISBN 978-1742203584. Retrieved 27 March 2015.
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 25 July 2014. Retrieved 28 July 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

Further reading[edit]

  • Gardner, David Skerrit. Colonos Franceses y Modernización en el Golfo de México. Xalapa: Universidad Veracruzana 1995.
  • Maison, Hippolite and Charles Debouchet. La Colonización Francesa en Coatzacoalcos. Xalapa: Universidad Veracruzana, Colección Rescate 1986.
  • Wyllys, Rufus K. The French in Sonora. Berkeley: University of California Press 1931. Los Franceses en Sonora. Mexico City: Editorial Porrúa.

External links[edit]