Friday, September 11, 2009

Hat Museum in Esperaza, France

To my knowledge, there are only two museums strictly dedicated to the beret; the "Musée du Béret" in Nay, France and the "Boinas La Encartada Museoa" in Balmaseda, Spain. But, with a proud history of dozens of beret manufacturers over the decades of the 20th century, it is no surprise to find another museum that -at least in part- is dedicated to the beret: Musée de la Chapellerie in Esperaza, France. 
At the beginning of the 19th century, wool felt hats were made on a small scale in family shops.
From the middle of the century onwards, the production became industrial and was at its height between the two world wars. At that time there were 14 factories employing more than 3000 workers.

Esperaza was the main centre with Quillan and Couiza until the early fifties when headgears went out of fashion.
Nowadays only one workshop is still going in Couiza-Montazels.
A video about the museum can be watched here


  1. In 1961 Concordia had a work camp for the under 25,s which was billeted in the hat factory. We were a mixture of English, French, Algerian.German and Dutch young people. Our job was to help the farmer clear a road up the hillside; It was great fun and not too arduous work. It was only when answering a call of nature at midnight that I encountered a very old man carrying a hat and learnt the hat factory was still operational.