• Barcelonnette

Barcelonnette

Founded in the first third of the 13th century, at the centre of the valley and along the Ubaye River, the new settlement called «Barcelone» was distinguished by its perpendicular plan which, even today, creates a feature in the historic centre of Barcelonnette. In the centre of town, we can almost forget we are in an alpine town at high altitude (1135 m) with its surrounding mountains rising to 2682 m (the Chapeau de Gendarme).

In the 18th century, Barcelonnette expanded with elegant urban residences, still visible today. Between-the-wars, a breath of modernity transformed the main public buildings in the town, rebuilt at great expense, but with the financial support of the valleys youth who had left to seek fortune in Mexico: the parish church, the new city hall, the new college, and the Barcelonnette bank founded in 1895, being a few examples.

Opened up to mountain tourism by the Route des Grandes Alpes, or Great Alpine Road, (1909), Barcelonnette acquired new hotels and began to welcome tourists and members of the French Alpine Club.

Today, mountain enthusiasts enjoy the Mercantour National Park established in 1980, and practice winter sports in the nearby resorts of Pra Loup and Sauze Super Sauze.

Since the final departure of the army in July 2009, the former garrison town has turned to education and research on natural risks and the study of biodiversity.

Barcelonnette also focuses on the development of quality cultural tourism with the Festival of Jazz, created in 1994 (last 2 weeks of July) and the Latino-Mexican Festival (last 2 weeks of August), whilst not forgetting the value of its built heritage (“Mexican” villas) and the unique history of the Barcelonnette migrants who departed to Mexico (1850-1950)