Jausiers, French Alps, Friday June 30 , 2017
French people do not have a reputation for emigrating abroad. Apart from the Bretons who massively settled in the US, very few French made the big leap across the Atlantic. Therefore the story of the Barcelonettes is particularly remarquable.
Barcelonette is a small town in the Alps. In the early 19 th century people lived poorly in their isolated valley from sheep, goat cheese and some crops. A first peasant from the valley emigrated to Mexico in 1850, and in a few years developed a successful textile business. When he first returned to his valley, wealthy and established, other people from Barcelonette and nearby villages thought “why not me” ? Thus began an immigration that draw between 1860 and 1920 some 6000 people from the valley to Mexico. There they successfully developed huge textile manufactures and became very wealthy. But they loved their alpine valley so much that many came back and built houses for their retirement. Houses? Mansions . The game was to show off and build a house larger, more luxurious than the neighbor’s. And when they died, they wanted their grave to testify their earthly wealth. Some 50 of these houses remain in Barcelonette and Jausiers, and the cemeteries are filled with pompous monuments. Have a look: