I was very surprised by this very interesting article which tells us that in spring 2018 bordermarkers will be placed between Andorra and France. And that means the first bordermarkers ever between both countries. Their border was never officially delimitated.
On my own webpage on the tripoints of Andorra you can read: “The Andorran constitution (1993) states that the borderline is the ‘traditional one’. However, in two areas Andorra and France/Spain came to a delimitation act. The first is about the border of the Andorran parish of St. Julia de Loria with Spain (1856). The second (2000) delimited the border near the French village of Porta.“. That last one was in order to build a tunnel.
In 2012 an agreement was signed for the delimitation of the whole Franco-Andoran border, the borderline was digitally measured and now the installment of the bordermarkers is scheduled for spring 2018. You can imagine that I’m very curious about: how many, which numbering, which places, their shape. It will involve new bordertrips and I can’t wait.
The article contains links to a few audio-recordings. One of them is an interview with the well-known Jean-Paul Laborie, member of the commission d’abornement franco-andorane. A previous article tells more about the conflict on the control of the water supply from the sources of the river Ariège.
Don’t miss it (I won’t): the wonderful exhibition of Marco Noris in the MuMe-museum in La Jonquera, 40km south of Perpignan. This Museu Memorial de l’Exili is a museum on the refugees who fled Spain after the civil war.
Marco has walked along the ESFR-border from Andorra to the Mediterranean in 25 days, visiting almost every bordermarker and making a (small) painting of each marker. His way of commemorating the border which was once a one-way threshold to freedom. The exhibition can be visited until 28 january 2018.
Yesterday was a historical day: a meeting at Cabane de Hérechet of Charles Darrieu and Michel Molia (French) with me (Dutch). We even had an international observer from Belgium: Henny.
(from left to right: Eef, Henny, Charles, MIchel)
Both frenchmen have covered all the existing bordermarkers on the ESFR-borderline and are puzzled – like me – by the fate of the 408-submarkers III and IV. They were installed about 50 years ago on a steeps hillside but are now unfindable. These missing markers are linked with an intriguing story of how a local conflict about tresspassing led to a change of the international borderline (see
Goals of our meeting: meeting each other and of course a last joint effort to find the missing markers. We didn’t find them (as expected) but we sure had a very pleasant and interesting meeting.
Conclusion: without a plan of the actual placement of the submarkers, there’s no clue where to search again after the numerous searches of us three.
There’s a French plan but buried somewhere in some archive but we now have a new link: a Spanish map kept in a Spanish archive.
I was shocked in june by the email of Corinne Gourgeonnet, a passionate bordermarker-researcher in the “Pyrénées-Orientales”. She had broken her ankle on her way from Can d’Amunt to bm540. In a way still in safe area, on a trail regularly visited, while she could have been alone in the depths of the remote river-valleys of bm536 or 540.
I’m the least one to warn you because I often wander alone into the wild to find whatever remote bordermarker. But be prepared to be surprised by an injury like a broken ankle:
– if possible, don’t go alone
– if you do: tell someone of your itinerary
– bring your mobile telephone
– carry an emergency supply of water, food, bandages and painkillers
– take clothes with you to keep you warm and dry when needed
– know where you are
And Corinne? Don’t worry about her, she is brave and cheerful and is already making new bordermarker-trips.
Olivier Penaud is a devoted bordermarker-researcher in the Basque country. See his photo-blog. In a video-recording of the French tv-series “Des Racines et Des Ailes” (from 16:40 up to the end) we see him showing us a few Basque bordermarkers and giving background information.
At the other side of the Pyrenees, the customs officer Patrick Arderiu takes us by boat to bm602 and tells about the annual reconnaissance of the bordermarkers.
I was surprised to read about the project of the artist Marco Noris from Barcelona: walking along the bordermarkers from Andorra to the Mediterranean and making a painting for each and every bordermarker. In fact it has already been accomplished on 11 september 2017 after a journey of 25 days, according to his detailed planning.
The artist describes his project (in the third person) in a way as only artists can: “During the walk, the artist will paint a work corresponding to each of the 198 milestones that mark the border. To walk and paint, joining together points along the border, as though balancing on that invisible line that divides in two that which is one, making visible what is invisible and opening up in this way a new stage for memory.”
On his website, every day is nicely planned on a map and we read that he has had an extensive support team. The results of his project will be shown at the MuMe-museum in La Jonquera from 14 october to 28 january. I can’t wait to visit it, a top target for the winter.
It has been a plan for years: (trail)running around Llivia and visiting all the bordermarkers on the go. Why: for the fun of it and as a sporty challenge.
Today was the day and the route I was about to follow was my own GRPdesBF-one:
Well, it took me 5:30h to complete the 25km. Many parts were unfit for running: too steep, too rocky or no trail at all. And when I could run, there were regularly interruptions to find the bordermarker, make a picture, to check where to proceed. So the average speed is low but the variation in speed was large. I was quite exhausted when I finished, also quite content. I think no one has ever done this.
The recording by Runkeeper can be seen at this page.
I’m back in the Pyrenees and today I visited the so-called Gorospil-cemetery: a graveyard of borderstones thrown from the Gorospil mountain-pass in the Basque-country. For whatever reason, bm75 and 76 were not quite popular between 1948 and 2003. Several successive generations were removed and tossed down the hillside to be dutifully replaced by officials with a new bordermarker.
It was Jacques Koleck who – in 2013 – first informed me of his findings: three old bordermarkers in the upper part of the stream of Haizagerrico, including an original bm76. Shortly afterwards, Javier Martínez Ruiz wrote me that he had in 2007 found the same bm76 as Jacques did and even found more bordermarkers down the stream, including an original bm75. This all triggered Anne Marie Bats and Bernadette Chasseur in 2014 to visit this ‘cemetery’ and they refound the markers of Jacques and Javier but also a ‘new’ bm75. In a few months, Jacques returned and he found an additional unmarked borderstone. See this page for the comprehensive story.
As you can read, I ‘m just standingd the shoulders of these devoted bm-investigators and I found easily all 6 bordermarkers standing erect in the stream-bed.
In the last weeks Michel Molia (from http://michelmolia.pagesperso-orange.fr/) has done a lot to find the missing submarkers 408III and IV. Without result but by doing so he could eliminate possible locations and narrowing down the terrain for future searches.
The submarkers 408-I to IV were placed in the 1960-ies in a change of the borderline to settle a borderdispute. The numbers III and IV are however unfindable. See this page for background-information.
But Michel is not the only one who has searched the area. Charles and Josette Darrieux undertook tough climbs from the Garonne up to the mountainridge and I myself did a couple of trips in the upper part.
Together we have crossed a large part of the area. Let’s put our gps-tracks together and see what’s left. You can check these tracks on a dynamic map.
In red: Michel’s tracks in the last weeks. In yellow some of my trips and in blue the tracks of the Darrieux. The orientation: up = west
Let’s first zoom in to the lower part where two streams (Ruisseau du Terme and la Goute de Réchèt come together for their final part to the Garonne. This could have been a possible spot for bm408-IV but Michel had already concluded that this is very unlikely considering the steepness of the terrain.
Picture of Michel of the confluence of the two streams. They are small streams as you can see.
This is the upper part with possible locations not far from the Cabane de Hérechet where streams (re)appear and merge.
Zoom-in of the middle part. There are two streams: one which originates above the cabane (it draws its water from) and one which starts to the left of the cabane. Michel supposes that this second one could be the continuation of the stream which springs at bm408-I and supposedly goes underground to reappear here. Hij would like to test that with color-marker like Norbert Casteret did to establish the source of the Garonne.
They merge here into the Gout de Hérechet. Might have been a logical place for a submarker. However: no bordermarker around here.
To finish: the upper part. My own theory focusses on this area but as you can see, it has been searched quite thoroughly. It remains a mystery.
We have discussed this topic a lot of times: how the borderline between bm356 and 360 was meant to be, according to the Treaty of 1862, and how it was reconstructed (wrongly, I think) in the 1950-ies. See the previous post and this one.
(the blue line is the proposed new borderline, to my opinion the one meant in 1862)
In the 1950-ies, all borderpillars in this area had disappeared since long, leaving traces in only some rare cases. Thus the locations of almost every bordermarker (they had to be rebuilt) had to be reconstructed by matching the descriptions and distances in the Treaty with the terrain.
Jean Sermet writes in his “Journal de la restauration de l’abornement de la Haute Garonne” (1957) that the location of bm358 was however indisputable (at its current position) but he gives (in this article) no argument for that. If that location was indisputable, it fixes inevitably the locations of bm357 and 359 because the distances in between are described in the Treaty. But as said, he gives in his “Journal” no proof of his assertion.
We all know that Charles Darrieu is an great admirer of Jean Sermet, defending his work and decisions but always by presenting evidence, see his comments at the previous post. In this case, he has found the following phrase of Jean Sermet in the magazine Pyrénées n°131 – JUIL-SEP 1982 p 238: “Il n’y avait pas d’erreur pour le Cap des Entenés et d’autant moins que l’on y retrouva la base de l’ancienne borne 358 de 1863.” So: the remnants of the old bm358 were still present at that time! And that’s a real ‘smoking gun’ in this discussion.
Nowadays, there are no visible traces of a former bm at the location of bm358 but if it was the case in the 1950-ies, it solves and ends this dispute.
But I’m a bit stubborn and in my opinion my hypothesis fits best in the text of the Treaty of 1862. I haven’t found yet old topographic maps of the first half of the twentieth century or earlier. I think they would give the ultimate answer to this question. Or: the discovery of the original bordercross 359.