Alpes-de-Haute-Provence (04400) Population: 2,634 Altitude: 1132 m
Barcelonnette is a large town in the wide mountain valley of the Ubaye. The town was created in the 13th century with the streets in neat rectangles, and the long pedestrian streets run parallel to the mountains on both sides. Market day Wed, Sat.
Barcelonnette is a market town with a strong tourist trade, partly because of the nearby mountain sports and river sports. The center of town has a lot of shops, and very, very many café-restaurants and restaurants.
Sprinkled around the outskirts of the center are the famous "Mexican villas" [see below]. They're often hidden behind walls, fences and foliage, but worth seeking out to admire as well as you can. The town has a Mexican tourist office, the "Maison du Mexique". Near the Office de Tourisme, there's a small arcade of shops selling Mexican style products: clothes, souvenirs, etc.
Shop. Chapellerie "Au Nouveau Siecle" is a very ancient hat shop with an ancient proprietor and some hats designed in another century. But a few modern hats as well. This photo is from 1998, when we bought a blue-denim cap with a back flap to protect the neck. The following photo we took more recently, in 2015.
Squares of Barcelonnette
Place Manuel at the east end of the center, site of the tall, 14th-century Tour Cardinalis and near the Office de Tourisme, was once probably pretty, with old houses on all sides and a nice fountain. But it's now overwhelmed with a surround of terrace-restaurants, all with huge, glaring signs and commercial awnings, hiding any semblance of beauty.
Place Valle de Bravo, in front of the Hotel de Ville, is large and open, with colorful houses on the sides, and lovely in its non-commercial state.
Place Aime Gassier is on the south side of the town center, and is where the Saturday market takes place.
Place Saint Pierre, in the northwest part of the center, houses the grey-stone Saint Pierre church, a 20th-century construction in the old style, on the site of the 13th-century original.
History of Barcelonnette
First record, 13th-c Barcilonia
Gallo-Roman: A roman site existed here.
Medieval: The town of Barcelonnette was founded in 1231 by Raimond Béringer V, count of Provence. He named the town as a diminutive of his native Barcelona. Barcelonnette was ruled by Comté de Savoie from 1388 to 1713. The town had a big fire in 1740, and was rebuilt after a another fire in 1761.
Market day: Wed, Sat. On Place Aime Gassier, south side of the town center.
Aug - Fetes Latino-Mexicaines - celebrating the town's Mexican heritage
• GPS: 44.386231, 6.64792
IGN (1/25,000) #3539 O "Barcelonnette, Pra-Loup"
Didier Richard (1/50,000) #1 "Alpes de Provence"
Barcelonnette is located in the Ubaye valley that runs east-west, then curves northeast and north past Jausiers. To the north are the forested mountains of the Domaniale de Barcelonnette. South of the valley, the mountains rise up to peaks of over 2600 m.
There are many hiking trails in the mountains both south and north of the river. The northern slopes are more forested, and there are better possibilites for loop hikes.
Stage 17 of the 2015 cycling Tour de France finished at the top of Pra Loup, just southwest of Barcelonnette.
Regional sports in Barcelonnette include:
- ULM - from the little airport [N?] of town edge
- Airwave - Ecole de Parapente, Ubaye
- tel: (33) 492 81 34 93
- action station is just out of town, East
- Rafting on the Ubaye
Musée de la Vallée
A museum of history, archeology and art, as well as local and world culture. Installed in 1988 in a one of the 19th-century Mexican style villas that Barcelonnette is famous for.
Location: Villa la Sapinière; 10, avenue de la Libération
Open: Wed, Thur, Sat; School holidays: daily
Tel: 0492 812 715