Tag Archives: Corinne Gourgeonnet

Champagne at the border: Corinne’s final bordermarker

Saturday 11 September 2021: a very special day for Corinne Gourgeonnet. After 6 years, she completed her quest to find and photograph each and every bordermarker along the French-Spanish border.

The last one to do was well chosen: bm311 at Col de Sobe. A touristic train

brought her to Lac d’Artouste which left 2 hours of climbing to bm311. She was however not alone: she brought her son Arthur (see http://blog.grpdesbf.nl/?s=arthur) ánd Michel Molia (see: http://blog.grpdesbf.nl/?s=molia), the famous discoverer of the 408III-IV-submarkers. I joined them halfway on their climb and together we reached bm311.

At the spot we celebrated the event, Corinne opening a large bottle of champagne

and together we toasted to Corinne’s achievement.

Corinne was moved and that is understandable. She has enjoyed so much all her adventures along the border, mostly done as solo-trips which has been an experience in itself. And now it is all finished, as if you have reached the destination of a long, long pilgrimage…

For Michel, it was also a final trip. He is eighty years old and it’s been enough for mountain walking. In a way, he celebrated his own farewell trip with the same champagne.

By completing all esfr-bordermarkers, Corinne enters the Gallery of Honor of men and women who have done them all. She is the third woman who has accomplished this and the first one to do them solo. The list is now:

1. Javier and María-Jesús Sancho-Esnaola
2. Charles and Josette Darrieu
3. Jacques Koleck
4. Myself
5. Michel Molia
6. Alain Gillodes
7. Corinne Gourgeonnet

Was this Corinne’s farewell to the bordermarkers? Well, she confided to me in secret that she thinks of doing a multi-day stretch of my GRPdesBF-trail next year. And Arthur stated casually that he will start ‘doing’ bordermarkers when he is grown up. We will hold him to it 🙂

Daredevil Jean-Marc climbs to bm436

The bordercross 436 is a remarkable one: it is almost invisible, engraved high above the ground on this fierce rock.

Without paint or chalk, it’s very hard to distinguish cross and number on the rockface. You have to know where to look. I was very lucky in 2010 that cross and number were painted black at that time, faded away in later years.

Corinne Gourgeonnet visited recently this area in her quest to ‘do’ all esfr-markers – her project soon to be finished – and had her own luck. Her companion Jean-Marc dared to do some rock-climbing to chalk cross and number for her.

As you can see, the numeral 4 has been engraved in mirror writing, I have seen that more.

The Bis of 330bis painted

A recent discovery of Corinne Gourgeonnet: besides the bordercross of 330(-bis) a large ‘Bis’ has been painted in recent years.

A ‘Bis’ because there are 2 crosses 330:
– one at its original location ± 4km west of this one on another border pass (engraved in the 19th century)
– and this one at Port de Clarabide, engraved in 2003. The original cross was considered to be lost or unfindable around 2000 and so a new one was engraved at Port de Clarabide.

But the original 330 still existed at the Port d’Aygues Tortes which was called Port de Clarabide on old maps. And that’s where the Treaty prescribed the engraving of bm330. But the toponyms of both passes changed on the maps in later years. And that explains the confusion.

See also this post and this webpage.

So the new 330 is in fact a second 330-bordercross and should be referred to as 330bis. That’s why the ‘Bis’ has been painted. But who is responsible for the painting? We think it is Jean-Paul Laborie – commissioner of the Pyrenean border committee – who talked about it on our joint trip to the new ADR-bordermarkers in 2019: see this post.

And indeed, it was Jean-Paul Laborie who did the job, I guess in 2020. He wrote me that he took a chisel and red paint to the Port. But his chisel proved not to be sufficient for this type of hard granite. He could only engrave the “bis” rudimentarily and paint it red. He was glad to see on Corinne’s picture that it is still in good shape. He sent me this picture with the ironical subtitle “the engraver of the peaks in his works”:

 

Another fire on the border

In February 2021, Javier Martinez Ruiz reported a devastating fire on the borderline near the Atlantic Ocean (see this post: The Basque-border on fire).

The same situation occurred on the 31st of July on the very other side of the border: at the Mediterranean coast, live witnessed by Corinne Gourgeonnet:

Not long after, she went – together with her son Arthur – to the scene to see if the bordermarkers were damaged or not. Well, they survived pretty well:

Arthur is the youngest one in our band of brothers (& sisters) of the border. He made a splendid introduction by swimming, together with his mother, in 2018 to the cave with bm602. See this post: Corinne & Arthur: swimming to bm602!

The new ADFR-bordermarkers visited

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.

 

Arthur, the conqueror

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.

A strange discovery: a bm171, found in a garden

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
Maison Laia
14 Route d’Ascarat
64220 Uhart-Cize

And this is a map of the premises of the B&B and where the bm is located:

Corinne & Arthur: swimming to bm602!

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.

esfr-trip-20110521-photo25

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.

esfr-map-bm600-602-googleearth-swimming-to-bm602-by-corinne-and-arthur

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.

gp-esfr602-20180802-with-arthur-photo-by-corinne-gourgeonnet

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 ….

gp-esfr023-024-2018-unnumbered-cross-in-between-with-arthur-photo-by-corinnegourgeonnet

Arthur is his habitat to be perhaps. Picture taken this spring in the Basque country between bm022 and 023.

Into the wild: avoid breaking your leg

corinne-gourgennetI 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.