I’m glad to announce an update of my main website www.grpdesbf.nl.
Main subject: the discovery of the lost submarkers 408 III and IV and the newly established borderline (2015) between bm408 and 409.
See for the update-details the update-log.
Bm602 can’t be reached by foot. This very last bordercross is hidden in a cave at the Mediterranean coast between Portbou and Cerbère. In 2011 we rented a boat with a boatsman to get there and Serge Poncet peddled with a canoe from Cerbère while the mountaineer Lionel Daudet descended along the steep rockwall to the waterlevel. The cave is in fact a tunnel as the following picture shows.
There has been only one man (Cayetano) who reached the cave by swimming as far as I know. Until now….because Corinne Gourgeonnet and her little son Arthur undertook the same adventure on August 2th 2018. From Portbou they followed the trail along the coast as far as they could and then started swimming.
And that’s not something to consider lightly: it implies swimming 700m to the cave and 700m back. To remind you: Arthur is only 9 years old but – as his mother wrote me – a good swimmer.
And the young Arthur may behold the future of our bordermarker-interest. Corinne is since a few years an impassioned searcher of bordermarkers and Arthur joins her regularly and who knows ….
Arthur is his habitat to be perhaps. Picture taken this spring in the Basque country between bm022 and 023.
On June 2th 2018, I – with my companion Jan-Willem Doomen – met Oier Gil and his girlfriend Judith Sanchez at bm196 near Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. We had a very interesting conversation about our mutual border experiences.
Oier (second from left) is an artist and originates from Irun along the Bidasoa-river which is the border with France in the Basque country. He – being so close to the border in various senses – has been intrigued by the concept of the border and its real-life implications. It has resulted in remarkable art-projects -> see his website and/or his videos.
Let’s focus on two projects, both supported by the Bilbaoarte Foundation:
Sauf Desserte Locale, a video in which a sort of bordermarker is driven around (fast motion) in a carrier tricycle through the towns of Irun and Hendaye at each side of the border-river. I liked the marker-design: they should hire an artist whenever a new bordermarker has to be made.
Another project was a midnight’s recording on the Île des Faisans, an island shared between France and Spain with a shift of ownership twice a year: at midnight at January 31st and July 31st. That fascinates Oier. If you are on the island at those precious moments, then you are not crossing the border but the border ….. crosses you!
This picture (of Oier): the island at midnight at January 31st 2018. The video with Oier’s own ‘Rite de passage’ can be seen on https://vimeo.com/247877249
Access to the island is forbidden but Oier told us that at low tide (especially when full moon) the access from the Spanish side is fairly easy on foot (but still illegal). A bit like when we passed the island on april 1st 2009:
with the riverbed being sandy, not muddy.
Marco Noris – an artist from Barcelona – impressed me very much last year with his project of walking along the esfr-border from Andorra to the Mediterranean and making small paintings and drawings of almost every bordermarker. See this post and this webpage for more information on this project and his first exhibition in La Jonquera. I was a bit disappointed by this first exhibition, not giving the exposure and backgrounds he deserved. But in Barcelona there has been a second exhibition at cultural center La Capella with all that I missed -> all paintings and the backgrounds and ‘the making of’ of his project. It has already finished but In a video
(with English subtitles) he himself tells about his project and what it meant personally for him in an artistic and spiritual way. Very interesting and inspiring.
And he has published a book: A la frontera / En frontera / On the Border
But how to get a copy if you have missed the exhibition in Barcelona? That’s a problem. Marco wrote to me that the distributor had stopped and there may be a new one. He himself might install a Paypal-facility on his website to do the job himself. For this moment, you might inquire at the art center La Capella where the exhibition was. Their email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
But there is more to come: “about all border stones from 1 to 426: I want to do the same for this part of the Border, I will write a complete project and I will search for sponsors“. Splendid!
Today I was proud – together with Jan-Willem Doomen – to be witness of the discovery of these lost intermediate markers. Michel Molia has been intrigued by the fate of these missing markers (see this page) and visited this remote mountain slope many times.
Four intermediate markers were placed in 1969 after a shift of the borderline. Markers 408 I and II are still there but 408 III and IV were nowhere to find. It was even unknown where they were placed since the official map was unfindable until recently. Michel Molia did a lot of research in the archives and managed to find the map. It was Philippe Barsacq who converted the original land surveyor-data into modern gps-coordinates.
Today Michel returned with his son Xabi and grandson Thomas for the final search. When Jan-Willem and I arrived at the spot, they had already found 408 IV. In fact it was Xabi who found it first (the man in the middle).
I’m glad to announce a new update of my website.
What’s new (main changes):
– added the 15 daytrips from july/december 2017. Start on this page
– special 1: final (?) search with Charles Darrieu, Michel Molia and Henny Claassen for the 408-submarkers 408 III and IV
– special 2: visiting Marco Noris’ exibition in La Jonquera
– special 3: the addition by Corinne Gourgeonnet of several unnumbered intermediate markers not yet reported in the 001-059 range: start at this page and browse them.
– made entries on the ‘sources-in-person’-page for Corinne Gourgeonnet and Michel Molia
Jerry Whitmarsh – a Pyrenees-mountainwalker by heart- recently asked me if one could walk around Andorra along its borderline. He did the HRP in 2015 and found that Andorra had “the potential for some interesting walks”. If I could help him? Well let’s try.
To start: there is already a circular walk in Andorra – the GRP – but it remains inside its borderlines:
So I designed a circular borderwalk around Andorra, using existing trails and trying to stick to the borderline. It visits everything you need to visit: both tripoints, bordermarkers 426 and 427, Pas de la Casa with its changing borderline and the pene-enclave Os de Civis.
But it’s a tough trip in a rough landscape: an estimated 10 days of hiking, distance 147km, total elevation of 22910m. Maximum altitude = 2899m, minimum altitude = 829m, average altitude = 2102m (statistics by Google Earth elevation profile).
The previous post suggested that the official delimitation of the French-Andorran border would lead to the installment and engraving of bordermarkers from the eastern to the western tripoint. I already dreamed of new mountain trips along the ADFR-borderline.
But Jean-Paul Laborie – border commissioner for France – wrote me that those new bordermarkers will only be placed in the Pas de la Case area, in particular between the Col des Isards and the lake of Estany de Font Negra. Let’s show the old borderline (from the tripoint of La Porteille Blanch to Pas de la Casa) on a map from the fifties.
Why (new) bordermarkers here? For a good reason because the borderline shifts to the east making Andorra larger. Let’s show it on a recent map:
Why this change? Because Andorra wanted more access to watersources for the town of Pas-de-la-Casa, e.g. the lake of Estany de Font Negra which is from now on split in half. That implies a loss of terrain and water-access for the French community of Porta which heavily protested. Jean-Paul states that three borderstones will be placed and several crosses engraved between Col des Isards and the lake, their numbering still unknown. He adds that already two unofficial white delimitation-lines have been painted: one on the border bridge giving access to the town-center and one at the roundabout leading to the tunnel d’Envalira.
In 2001, there has been another border change in this area, in that case comprising of an equal exchange of terrain on either side of the borderstream. Andorra was building a tunnel just north of Pas de la Casa (tunnel d’Envalira) and wanted its own terrain on the French side of the border-stream for the building of road and viaduct leading to the tunnel. Blue = Andorran parcels ceded to France. Yellow = French terrrain ceded to Andorra.
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.