Barcelonnette is a French commune of 2,800 inhabitants, part of the Alpes de Haute Provence department, in the Provence Alpes Cote d’Azur region. It is the main town of the Ubaye valley, located next to Italy. It is said that the name of the town comes from the Spanish town of Barcelona. Indeed, Barcelonnette was founded by a Spanish count in 1231 and thus received this name.
The atmosphere in the town is very traditional but also original. Indeed, a part of Barcelonnette’s culture is Mexican! Barcelonnette has been the departure point of many immigrants to Mexico in the late 19th century. They came back with much money and built villas and mansions in Barcelonnette, in the mexican style. The influence is thus visible in the architecture of the town and in its culture, through some festivals organised during the year like the “Days of Mexico”.
The town offers plenty of activities in any season which is really its main asset: having a green and lush nature around in summer, Barcelonnette becomes a great ski resort in winter. The ambience is both that of Provence and that of a classic mountainous town. Activities which can be done include hiking, cycling, canoeing, skiing, paragliding, horse riding, birds spotting. The town is located along a national nature reserve which offers landscapes of astounding beauty. A small town offering a high quality of life.
Average property prices in France in 2009 are as follows: €192,700 for a house, €2,400 / sq m for an apartment. In the commune of Barcelonnette, the average price of houses is €180,200 and apartments cost between €1,900 / sq m and €2,400 / sq m. However, if you have a more limited budget, cheaper apartments can be found in the rural areas around the town (down to €1,730 / square metre in Enchastrayes or Uvernet-Fours).
The town is an ideal place for rental investments. Indeed, the area is renowned for the quality of life and activities all year long, but there is still room for people willing to invest. Eco-friendly projects are particularly welcome in this preserved area of France. It is interesting to notice that property prices in Barcelonnette ae slightly decreasing currently, while in the department prices go up. An excellent choice if you wish to buy in the Alps to hike and practise ski, but stay not far from the French Riviera and Italy.
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Culture and historical heritage: the town, due to its history, has a rich culture linked to that of Mexico. It is also twinned with a town of this south-american country. These early international traders went to Mexico as per 1821 and became very wealthy, also playing a great economic role in the development of the country, acknowledged today. Thus nowadays, links are strong between the two communities but the history of these people is little-known outside of the valley. Barcelonnette’s authorities do their utmost to promote this, and this is a great success. Along with this, the town has typical Provencal buildings and culture which makes an uncommon mix.
Tourism – sights: Barcelonnette offers great landscapes ideal for both tourists and inhabitants. From the town’s streets, the view over mountains is great and gives much value to local property. The town has many touristy assets but the Alpes de Haute Provence department is also little-known and offers many quality activities.
Architectural style: with a mix of Mexican style and typical Provence architecture, the town offers several facets to its inhabitants. This originality is acknowledged and buying one of these properties will allow you to have a house / apartment with a stable price.
People and lifestyle: the locals are welcoming in this part of the region, as it is often the case in mountainous areas. Along with this, the street markets are an ideal moment to meet them and get integrated in the local community. These markets also allow you to buy mouthwatering local produce. Traditional life in Barcelonnette is mainly a simple, sound and eco-friendly one.
Rental opportunities: in the area, rental opportunities are obvious. Many properties are available at moderate prices, and tourists can be drawn easily. However the area has lots of unexploited potential which means that people with gite or guest house business project will find a favourable place to settle there.
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