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.
In the busy bordertown of Le Perthus, there are two very remarkable bordermarkers: 2 pillar-like markers with a coat of arms of both countries. They stand on either side of the main road from Spain to Perpignan. They date from 1764, from the Convention of Perpignan. Later on – in the 19th century – they were incorporated in the Bayonne-treaties and got their numbers in the 1-602 sequence: 574 and 575.
Old postcard showing them together, looking into Spain
With the risen popularity of Le Perthus as a shopping paradise, the road was widened and bm574 was relocated about 50m to the SW. At its original spot, a metal plate (with ‘574’) was put at ground surface. We don’t know when that happened. This is a map of the scene:
The label 574bis is an invention of ours to distinguish both markers. The plate we are talking about is shown on this picture from 2008:
At the far end of the white line is bm574
But Carlos and Conchita Roca (website) couldn’t find it back in July 2019.
Picture of Carlos & Conchita Roca
Has it been stolen? Or damaged and removed? Or just being covered by a splash of tarmac for some unknown reason?
Across the Pyrenees, there are a few cross-border tunnels:
– underneath Col de Somport there are two of them: the derelict train-tunnel (in use from 1928 to 1970) and – parallel of it – the modern tunnel of 2003
– underneath Col de Bielsa: the tunnel Aragnouet-Bielsa, opened in 1976
– underneath Col de Perthus: two railway-tubes for the high-speed line Perpignan-Barcelona, opened in 2010.
They all have bordermarkers at the borderline and typically at both sides of the tube. Let’s show what we got.
The somport-tunnel (the new one), these pictures were supplied by Charles Darrieu.
Interesting: the old railway-tunnel should also have bordermarkers, they might resemble the ones in the Bielsa-tunnel. The railway-tunnel is now in use as an emergency-tunnel for the new one.
The Bielsa-tunnel, these pictures were recently found by Jacques Koleck in the Archives of Dax. They are from Jean Sermet himself and are part of a file named “Démarcation frontalière des Hautes Pyrénées – Province de HUESCA” rédigé par Jean SERMET”from 1989 (archive-reference “Jean Sermet Archives Départementales des Hautes Pyrénées – cote F 398”). The installment of the plaques even involved a binational treaty. And see this account of Jean Sermet of the whole process. Charles Darrieu also has pictures of these markers (and the documents).
Finally, the Perthus-tunnel also has got his share of bordermarkers, two for each tube. Serge Poncet retrieved these pictures from the tunnel-company.