Today I swam to bm602, the last of the esfr-bordermarkers in a cave on the Mediterranean coast. Accessible only by boat or by swimming.
I trained this summer in open water swimming and after a failed trial a few days ago, I succeeded today in good weather and a calm sea. And thanks to the directions of Corinne Gourgeonnet who made the trip twice with her son Arthur.
With bm602 doing for the second time (first time by boat on 21-5-2011), I have completed my ‘quest’ to do all esfr-bordermarkers twice with at least one year interval. I guess I am the first person on the planet earth who has done this. You might ask: why? I always respond with: ‘why not’. But now it’s enough.
I will return to the Pyrenees nevertheless, there is always a reason to come back to these marvelous mountains and revisit bordermarkers, just for the fun of it.
Carlos and Conchita Roca (website) are proceeding steadily on their quest to do all esfr-bordermarkers. They started in the eastern Pyrenees years ago; the only marker missing there was bm602. But yesterday bm602 was finally conquered: see their own story.
Bm602 is a special one: in a cave along the Mediterranean coast, it is only accessible by boat or swimming. But recently Carlos managed to hire a boatsman from Llança to bring them to the cave. The entrance to the cave is too narrow for a regular boat so you have to swim or use a canoe for the last part.
And that was what they did on 13 august: Carlos and Conchita in a canoe and their son David and his ‘novia’ Noelia swimming, making it a family experience to cherish. In this picture, they are close to the inlet which gives access to the cave.
And here they are proudly posing before the plaque of bm602.
And then returning to the boat in the same way.
After the boat trip, reason enough to enjoy a paëlla meal.
Thus Carlos and Conchita have now covered all bordermarkers between Andorra and the Mediterranean. They have also done almost all bordermarkers on the other side of the Pyrenees (Basque country, no. 1-272).
See this new webpage to see who has done all bordermarkers or one or two of the three main subdivisions.
Jean-Paul Laborie is a commissioner of the Pyrenean border committee. As such, he is popular with the media and has appeared several times in newspapers-articles or on television.
His latest appearance on television was part of a news-broadcast (Le 13 heures du samedi 23 mai 2020) on the French TF1-channel. Not as an actual news-item but as a human interest subject on the bordermarkers of the Pyrenees. The video contains a lot of drone-made aerial footage, I like that.
Les-bornes-frontière-de-Napoléon – Le 13 heures du samedi 23 mai 2020_TF1 from Eef Berns on Vimeo.
The video has four parts:
– part 1: Jean-Paul visits Col du Portillon (bm366) and Col de Barèges (bm356 and 358) and gives some explanations
– part 2: a trip (without Jean-Paul) to the old mines of Bentaillou which are said to be close to bm420. In fact they are much closer to bm418/419 which is still a 2-hours walk from the mines. The guide points wrongly to a col (Portillon d’Albe) where there is no bordermarker and to a mountain top (Pic de Serre Haute) with a ‘borne’ visible. But that not a ‘borne frontière’ but a giant cairn.:
(Picture above borrowed from this webpage)
– part 3: two short visits to Llivia and Le Perthus
– part 4: Jean-Paul visits for the first time bm602 which is in a cave at the mediterranean coast. Bm602 is only accessible by boat or by swimming.
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.
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.
Bm602 – the last bordermarker – is hidden in a cave at the mediterranean coast and can only be visited by boat. On 21 may 2011 we hired a boat & sailor to get there and I know that Charles & Josette Darrieu did the same.
I was surprised to learn from Serge Poncet that you can also peddle in a kayak to the cave. If the sea is calm, it can be easily done, so it seems. Serge hired a 2-persons kayak from the ‘Centre de Plongée de Cerbère’ (25€ for a half day) and peddled with his wife to the cave.
Serge Poncet is since 2011 passionate about the Pyrenean bordermarkers. He has almost ‘done’ all the bordermarkers east of Andorra and will continue in the Basque country next year. He has served in the French mountain army forces and he wrote me that he is capable of long, long mountain trips. I think we can expect a lot more of him.