A little bit of history

50 years already!

Our association – Pariseko Eskual Etxea – the “Maison basque de Paris” was born now over fifty years ago, during a time when young Basques came in great numbers to the capital. All these youth needed a place to get together and to reconnect with their roots and their origins. They also wanted to integrate into Parisian society and find their place.

At this time, Piarres Charritton, with the support of the Bayonne Diocese, founded the association Parizeko Eskualdun Gazteria, which was in fact a branch of Eskualdun Gazteria – young agricultural Christians of the Basque Country. In the beginning, the association temporarily occupied the premises of the University Sorbonne and the Saint-Sévrin parish in order to get together and organize meetings.

The success of the enterprise made the need for structure ever more urgent. It was thus decided to acquire a space. On October 18th, 1955 Mr. Louis Domecq from Hasparren and Miss Jeanne Idiart, a young cleaning lady from Xuberoa, signed the contract for sale on an old laundry building located in the 16th arrondissement in Paris. The first Maison Basque de Paris was born. The necessary building renovations were made thanks to donations from parishes in the Basque Country, Basques living in Paris and their friends, and volunteers working under the direction of the Navarre architect Iristarri.

Until December 11th 2002, the Maison Basque at rue Duban welcomed thousands of Basques, from both sides of the Pyrenees and from Bidassoa. For fifty years, it was there that Basques found their first housing in Paris, made friends, and were able to feel the comfort of a home in a large and not always welcoming city.

Even today, Basques, their descendants and their friends aspire to get to know each other, share a moment of their lives and express their culture at the heart of Parisian society. To evolve, the Maison Basque had to move to a new building in Saint-Ouen and, as in the past, will need the help of everyone, institutions and individuals alike, from Paris and from the Basque Country. In Saint-Ouen as well, young people from the Basque Country who come to work or study need both moral and material support, to meet people with whom they can share their experience.

Perhaps more than ever, Pariseko Eskual Etxea has it’s place in Parisian society, it’s doors open to all the Basques and their friends when they need it, an essential bridge between the Basque Country and Paris.