Ubaye and Mexico
Exploring the Americas

Open to trade and to exchanges, the economy of the Valley relied for a long time on the textile industry combining wool manufacturing and silk spinning. The inhabitants of the Ubaye valley, very early trained in "the art of being a trader", left the Valley to sell their products of silks and linens in Provence, Dauphiné, Piedmont, Flanders...

Mexican fiestas in Barcelonnette in tribute to migrants
Mexican fiestas in Barcelonnette as a tribute to migrants

Ubaye
at the discovery of the Americas

In the mid-nineteenth century, permanent emigration replaced seasonal emigration and led the entrepreneurs of the Valley to the Americas; at first in Louisiana of French tradition, then to Mexico where Jacques Arnaud (1781 - 1828) established a textile business around 1818 - 1820 associated with his brothers Dominique and Marc-Antoine, paving the silk route to Mexico. 

Mexican Villa in Barcelonnette
Mexican villas have full dimension in Barcelonnette

Privileged destination since the Second Empire, Mexico concentrated the largest community of emigrants from Ubaye, called the Barcelonnettes which gave birth to several generations of manufacturerstraders and bankers, who would become the "preferred partners" (John Meyer) of the young republic of the United States of Mexico between 1870 and 1910.

Barcelonnette " Mexican Town" in the Alps

Spread over half a century (1880 - 1930), the construction of the villas of Barcelonnette and Jausiers clusters around fifty buildings which helped create a new urbanism, close to that of contemporary spa towns, where, in the same way, parks and gardens outweigh the constructions. The result is the spirit of a resort that characterizes the emergence of this new architecture, common on the Mediterranean coast and on the seaside resorts of the Atlantic coast.

Mexican Villa Barcelonnette
Mexican Villa in Barcelonnette
Mexican Villa Barcelonnette
Mexican Villa in Barcelonnette

The founders were all children of Barcelonnette, returning after long years of emigration and who all have been very successful in the textile and trading industry. Thus, after having been at the forefront of good taste and modernity, they concentrated on building modern villa's where they could spend the summer afterwards leaving to the sea side as soon as it got cold. Alexandre Reynaud, father of Paul Reynaud, French statesman (1878 - 1966), was one of the first persons who build an elegant villa. Its perfect proportions and symmetry remind of the great classical mansions of the historic centre of Barcelonnette.

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