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.
I was happy to receive from Jean-Paul Laborie his report of the renewal of the submarker 409-7 close to bm410 near Pont du Roi which took place a few weeks ago.
The beautiful ceramic covers were destroyed between 2011 and 2014. The ceramic plates have been remade by the same company of 45 years ago. We can see that they are identical with the original ones on the next picture. The bm409-submarkers were placed in ± 1970. See this page for more information.
Jean-Paul Laborie is a “Délégué à l’abornement”, an official border-commissioner with the assigment to check the bordermarkers in the central part of the Pyrenees. I think he has a dream-job.
Jean-Paul Laborie is one of the border-commissioners of the Pyrenees. As such he doesn’t quite seek shelter in the shadow. Frequently he appears in newspapers or on tv. His latest appearance is in a short documentary on “Les bornes frontières entre la France et l’Espagne” telling about the bordermarkers (this is bm152) and the peculiar ‘Pays Quint’: Spanish territory inhabited by French farmers. One thing is puzzling: at some point (at 2.05′) he seems to state that the border between two bordermarkers is a straight line which is untrue.
The Pays Quint is also a small subject in a longer documentary on “Les 100 lieux qu’il faut voir – Pays Basque” on France 5. In five minutes (from 30′ to 35′) bm139 is shown and the Pays Quint explained.
I have watched the documentary “Mon Pays, c’est la frontière” by Anne Fontaneau and Alexandre Gary (see previous post) several times with a lot of pleasure. It’s easy to download it using the Captvty-program.
There are 6 storylines nicely intertwined and some of them result in some sort of climax or anticlimax. These stories are:
– Jean-Paul Laborie and Michel Bacchus finding bm379 and not finding bm364, Jean-Paul also engaged in repairing a unnumbered bordermarker on the new Pont du Roi near bm410. See also this post.
– A team of customs-officers chasing liquor and tobacco-smugglers coming from Andorra (a lot of manpower for small catches, I would say)
– a man fascinated by the derelict railway Pau – Canfranc (apparently it will be revived)
– a french haircutter running a hairdresser’s business in Llivia (Spanish females like colorful hair-dyes)
– about life in the “Pays Quint” with the venta above bm137 in the spotlights and a woman who has moved to this peculiar ‘binational’ territory (I think I, recognized her house)
– and a French woman delivering her baby in the first cross-border hospital of Europe: the ‘Hôpital de Cerdagne’ in Puigcerda (but with a very large majority of Spanish workers).
As you might expect, I watched with special interest the efforts of Jean-Paul Laborie and Michel Bacchus. Jean-Paul – a retired geography-professor – is an official delegate of the Pyrenean bordercommittee and Michel used to work for the IGN (French geographical institute). But I didn’t know they are “partners in crime”. That they couldn’t find bm364 didn’t surprise me, it has been searched in vain by many others.
I was happy to hear from Jean-Paul Laborie – delegate of the Pyrenean bordercommission – that the sadly destroyed submarkers 409-7fr will be replaced or repaired. The beautiful ceramic plates will be remade by the same company of 45 years ago.
It’s one of the 2×7 submarkers between bm409 and 410 placed along the Garonne riversides and intended to mark precisely the borderline when the barrage-lake flooded the Garonne-banks around 1970. More information and pictures on this webpage
This is part of a maintenance operation at Pont du Roi where one of the unnumbered markers on the new bridge was repaired. You can read about that in this newspaper-article in which that unnumbered marker is wrongly called bm410. I liked the testimony of Laborie on the significance of maintenance of the bordermarkers: because they are our heritage!
I’m happy that the lost bordercross 510 has recently been replaced by a brand new plaque. We know that the bordercross on the “Col des Neuf Croix” above Nuria was missing for many years and that a replacement was scheduled for some years already. See this webpage for my last search for it in 2010.
Jean-Paul Laborie – member of the Pyrenean bordercommittee and responsible for the Central Pyrenees – informed me on 21 october 2013 of the replacement and sent me this picture.
His two colleague-members for the eastern Pyrenees – Joan Capdevila Subirana from Girona and his French counterpart Christian Lajarrige – where the ones who took charge of the actual replacement.
September 14, 2012. Jean-Paul Laborie climbed to Port d’Aygues Tortes in freezing weather. He had a mission: finding the original bm330. We know that this bordercross was engraved in the 19th century at Port de Clarabide and nowadays there is still a cross 330 at this col. But that cross was engraved in 2003, the previous one was unfindable.
Jean-Paul Laborie is a member of the Pyrenean bordercommittee. Apparently bm330 puzzled him and at some point he got a brilliant idea. Could it be that the toponomy of the borderpasses as shown on the maps have changed in the course of years? And that the original Port de Clarabide was somewhere else? He compared old and contemporary maps. And his hypothesis was confirmed! The contemporary Port d’Aygues Tortes used to be Port de Clarabide. And that’s where Jean-Paul found the original bm330.