The Ubaye Valley has always been open to trade with mainly textile activity.
The inhabitants of Barcelonnette are called “les Barcelonnettes” and were very early intended to “the art of being a merchant“. They left the Valley for new horizons, Provence, Dauphiné, Piedmont, Flanders but also the Americas to sell their sheets and silk.
In the mid-19th century, traders from the valley migrated to the Americas, first to Louisiana and then to Mexico. Jacques Arnaud and his two brothers set up a fabric store there in 1818, opening up the silk industry in Mexico.
Mexico will thus concentrate a very large community of emigrants of Ubayan origin giving rise to several generations of industrialists and bankers.
More than fifty Mexican mansions in the Ubaye Valley were built by emigrants from Jausiers and Barcelonnette who made their fortune in Mexico in the textile industry and trade between 1880 and 1930.
Ostentatious marks of their success, these large villas with their majestic parks such as the Villa Manon, Villa Laugier or Villa Morélia are the witnesses of this epic.
Many fortresses and various military works near the campsite in Barcelonnette were built between 1840 and the end of the century in the Ubaye Valley because of its geographical location (crossroad between Piedmont, Savoy and Provence).
Numerous barracks and forts (barracks of Restefond, fort of Tournoux, etc.) were built to protect the border from a possible attack from Italy and many fortifications helped to modernize the life of the Ubayens (opening of the Cayolle pass, new means of communication, etc.).