I used to receive once in a while pictures of esfr-bordermarkers of Sébastian Marc and I wondered who he was and if he aimed at ‘doing’ all the esfr-bordermarkers. To my surprise, he happened to be not a retired sexagenarian or septuagenarian but a young and athletic man with a passion to find and photograph every esfr-bordermarker.
Sébastien is 44 years old and works in logistics. Being a devoted Pyrenees-walker since long, he started with ultra-trailrunning in the Pyrenees 10 years ago. And then he discovered the esfr-bordermarkers and that became his next goal. He has covered ± 75% of all esfr-bordermarkers and remembers bm542 as being the most difficult to reach, bm510 as the most beautiful, and bm143 as unfindable until now.
But he is not alone: he dragged his cousin Jérôme Loubière into this passion and Jérome started his own project to do them as well.
Jérôme is 45 years old and a mathematics and language teacher. He also mentions the bordermarkers near Coustouges (bm536-524) as being the most difficult and thinks that bm601 is the most beautiful with its view over the Mediterranean. He has done ± 50% of all bordermarkers.
They often go together for one or two days but in order to catch up with Sébastien, Jérôme also makes trips alone or with his family. They call themselves ‘ramborneurs’, I supposed a combination of ‘Rambo’ and ‘borne’ but it happens to be a less testosterone-driven combination as Sébastien pointed out later: ‘les randonneurs qui cherchent des bornes’.
And how far are they? Well, Sébastien is way ahead of Jérôme with 524 bordermarkers covered so far while Jérôme has done 363 markers until now. They both refer to the total number of 602 bordermarkers but in fact, there are a lot more markers. In my definition and counting (see this page), there are 723 markers that fit somehow in the alpha-numerical sequence between no. 1 (Basque country) and 602 (Mediterranean coast). There are 6 markers missing (see this page)
That leaves 717 individual markers to be photographed to enter the list of the ones who did them all (see this post).
And to finish: Sébastien has even baptized a stone pillar on his property as marker 603, to prove his devotion. He is not the only one to have a personal bordermarker in the garden: see Serge Poncet’s bm583bis.
Thanks to information of Serge Poncet I learned that on the mountain-top of Querroig four submarkers of bm597 will be engraved (if the proposal will be approved by the “Commission mixte Franco-Espagnole”). Why? Apparently there were groundworks scheduled around the ruins of the former castle which could change the watershed and therefore the borderline.
In 2014 a team of officials made a reconnaissance of the terrain and marked the four rocks where the bordercrosses could be engraved when the project will be approved. I don’t know when that will be. In their report they list the coordinates which makes locating them on Google Earth easy.
The rocks in question were provisory marked with yellow paint crosses and spots. Like this one (bm597c):
Update 2017 or 2018: according to Serge Poncet, the project has been abandoned due to the estimated high costs.
Serge Poncet did an amazing discovery in november 2015. The nice weather permitted him to do a hike to Coll de Núria where bm508 is to be found. That is to say: the remnants of it and that means that only the engraved cross is left. Its position (conform the Treaty) and the resemblance with the other bordercrosses in this area made a positive identification possible. Nothing was left of the number, however.
But Serge brushed away the loose grit and stone around the cross and he found an engraved 8! Thus proving that this is really bm508.
And let’s show the spot of that 8 on a picture of mine:
I was honoured to be invited on 12 april 2014 by Serge and Martine Poncet for an informal meeting of ‘bordermen’ or – mockingly in French – ‘bornés’ (freely translated as: stubborn on bordermarkers) who share a passion for the Pyrenean bordermarkers. Even a news-reporter was invited who wrote this article for the L’Indépendant-newspaper:
I felt happy to meet (again) Serge and Martine Poncet, Charles & Josette Darrieu, Alain Laridon, Cayetano and Jean & Carmen Iglesias while enjoying a delicious catalan-style meal. In the après-diner, I was lucky to sit in between the laptops of Serge and Charles, watching their pictures and listen to their stories, both testimonies of our shared passion.
Serge Poncet sent me some pictures in november 2013 of the maintenance work on bm545 and 546. The vandalized bm545 was neatly painted over in white. Bm546 – hanging dangerously at the steep roadside – got a sturdy fundament. Bravo for honoring these historic monuments. I’m curious who are the ‘actors’ and which are the rules in this proces of surveying and deciding and implementation.
What we know is that each year a bordermarker-survey is done near Coustouges, involving the communicipalities at both side of the border. I found this picture in the newspaper “l’Independant” of 19 june 2013. Jean Iglesias is still ‘alive and kicking’ as the guide of the party.
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.