Today I visited the recently installed bordermarkers between Andorra and France, see also the previous post. I checked the gps-readings as provided by the Andorra Cartography Department and they can be downloaded as a gpx or kml.
I was in a splendid company: with Corinne Gourgeonnet, Michel Molia and Jean-Paul Laborie. The last one is a member of the Pyrenean border commission and was highly involved in in the negotiations which led to the new borderline and new bordermarkers. The latest news is that the official inauguration is planned on september 6th.
Jean-Paul guided us along the new bordermarkers, telling about the choices made, his work in general and his relationship with his predecessor Jean Sermet which he admires for his writings and the esteem he had in Spain. Michel had a discussion with him on the decision on the new borderline between bm408 and 409 which he (Jean-Paul) labeled as a political compromise with little chances of reversal (see this post for my opinion on this subject). By and large, we had a very pleasant outing, crowned by a picnic provided by Corinne.
On 24 July 2019, I had a delightful meeting with Corinne Gourgeonnet and her son Arthur. I know Corinne since 2 years and she has impressed me with her enthusiasm in searching the esfr-bordermarkers, making new discoveries and deliberately abstaining from the help of a gps.
But we never met before until today when the four of us – Corinne, her son Arthur, Jan-Willem Doomen and me – traveled to the foothills of Pic d’Orhy to do a bordermarker-trip together. We covered bm232 to 234bis which meant descending into the forest to hidden borderstreams. The young Arthur (10 years old, already famous for his swimming-trip to bm602), liked to take the lead in the approach of the bordermarkers. With the gps in his hand, he guided us towards them. On the picture above, we see him with his mother at bm234.
And on this picture, the three men proudly smiling.
Corinne Gourgeonnet is an enthusiastic bordermarker-devotee. She spent some days around new year near Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. How great was her surprise that the landlord of her B&B told her that he had a bordermarker in his garden! He had found it at his premises when he bought it. The previous owner was apparently a collector of strange items, found or otherwise acquired. Let’s show Corinne’s pictures of this strange item:
This is definitely an esfr-bordermarker but of a type never seen before. Perhaps it was once made to replace the bm171 at the border-ridge 11km SE. But there we find a much more massive marker:
Where can you find this marker? The address is
14 Route d’Ascarat
And this is a map of the premises of the B&B and where the bm is located:
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.
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.