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Llívia Enclave - 2005-09-10 - Trip Report

by Hugh Wallis

Text and all photographs © 2005, Hugh Wallis - All Rights Reserved

As part of a weekend driving from Barcelona to Madrid and doing some geocaching and tripointing on the way I decided to visit Llívia, the fascinating Spanish exclave in France. I wish I could have had more time there but I was able to investigate a few interesting points. Here is my report.

All the pictures are thumbnails - if you click on them you will get the large photo.

To set the stage, here is a topographical map of Llívia from "The Bordermarkers of Llívia" website where you will find other maps and interesting photos as well. I made great use of this map by geo-referencing it and converting it to Memory-Map so it was integrated with my GPS receiver and would display live on my PDA as I traversed the terrain - this made finding the various boundary markers much easier. All GPS readings on this page are using the WGS84 datum.

Approaching Llívia from Spain proper you cross into France just outside Puigcerda. There is a new bridge but the border markers appear to be still painted on the old bridge. GPS reading was N42° 26.669' E001° 56.575', elevation 3,281 ft.

 

Border marker on one parapet of the old bridge
Border marker on the other parapet of the old bridge
Marker on the side of the bridge at the French end (right hand side as you look at the next photo)
View of the old bridge looking from Spain into France - there was a lady and her young daughter crossing back and forth between France and Spain as they played dropping sticks into the river. The cars parked on the far side of the bridge all had French licence plates.
The new bridge (sorry about the reflection in the windscreen!!)

Driving on about another 0.5km you encounter the infamous "roundabout" that was put in place to reduce the danger of the previous crossroads at which, apparently, neither the French, nor the Spanish, would recognise any stop sign.

The roundabout - looking towards Llívia

Now on to Llívia proper. The boundary appears to be at GPS Waypoint  N 42° 27.193' E 001° 57.593' - 3,854ft elevation. It was not especially obvious but careful observation revealed a border marker, the end of the French road markings and a change in road surface as the following photos will show.

The border marker (no 1) - the writing on it is totally unclear.
This photo is taken looking north along the border towards marker 45 (which I did not make the effort to loacte). The posts are (just) in France and are very typical French road markings (presumably to assist snow ploughs identifying the road edge in the winter) which cease as you enter Llívia. The border clearly crosses the centre of the field on the north side of the road.
Standing in France looking towards Llívia
Another view from France into Llívia (standing on the other side of the road from the previous one)
Standing in Llívia looking into France - the change in road surface is evident as happening a short way inside Llívia.

Driving a bit further towards the town of Llívia proper...

... we see a preponderance of Spanish style road signs. (Photo taken at N42° 27.521' E001° 58.196', elevation 3,888 ft)

I then drove through the town centre but took no photos. My impression was of a prosperous town with buildings that looked more modern (or at least new - nice architecture though) than I had expected. I suspect that Llívia's status as an enclave in France may have benefited it from both tourism and politically inspired investment from Spain (just an unsubstantiated theory though)..

On leaving the town at the west end I found a rather interesting "border crossing" where there was no actual border marker.

This sign was in a small picnic area - it was on the Llívia side of the river (at N42° 27.941' E001° 59.494' elevation 3,891 ft) and yet was in French - not Spanish or Catalán.
Looking towards the north-west - the sign is in the background - the river which forms the boundary is just behind the sign
The bridge over the river appears to be maintained by the French. This is looking into France. The French sign is on the Llívia side of the river.
This sign is on the left of the previous photo on the north side of the road. (Llívia side of the river) Picnic tables (and my hire car) are behind it.

To get a good view of the enclave I then drove up the hill (in France) past Estavar to N42° 28.591' E001° 59.767', elevation 4,715 ft where I took this photo:

Looking south-west
A wider angle view

Taking a break I then had a miserable failure in my attempt to find the geocache Pyrénées 2000 (I blame rain and the fact that my GPSr was finding it a really hard job acquiring satellites in the woods) and so returned to find some of the northern border markers that are not pictured on the site "The Bordermarkers of Llívia". My approach was to plot the locations from the map as waypoints into my GPSr and assume that the markers would be fairly close to those locations. In general I found the map to be between 20m and 80m off - but this could have been a problem with the geo-referencing of the map itself.

First up was marker 28  - located at N42° 29.697' E001° 58.752', elevation 5,841 ft. This was in the corner of a field, only a few metres away from the road passing to the north of it (in France). This picture is looking north (the road is lurking behind the bushes).
The Llívia side - this side was marked 28 LL
The French side - marked 28 A (probably referring to the town of "Angoustrine").
Driving down the road, 36 was pretty close to the road as you can see - N42° 28.792' E001° 58.018' - elevation 4,543ft - this was about 80m away from where it was marked on the map
The other side of 36 - I looked around for 37 which should have been very close and is supposed to be a cross marked on a stone, but was unable to find it. Some of the stones were very overgrown with brambles so it might have been hiding there.
Next I walked up the hill towards 35 which is hiding behind that stone wall you can see here. There was a pathway between two electric fences that I guess was probably roughly following the border.
The French side of 35 - electric fences much in evidence - N42° 28.830' E001° 58.234', elevation 4,608ft.
35 LL - nothing more to say
Just another position setting view of 35
I then made the trek over pretty rocky ground, back past 36, to find 38 at N42° 28.723' E01° 57.786', elevation 4,435ft. This is the French face of the marker.
Performing physical contortions by leaning waaaay over the fence, I got this shot of the Llívia side of 38.
This was a not so brilliant attempt to take a photo towards where number 39 should be - but I needed to move on and didn't fancy a fairly lengthy climb down the hill (think about the climb back up afterwards!!)
Returning to the car I thought a couple of photos of Llívia from its northern border might be of interest - Cereja is in the foreground.
I met a very nice cat here - but she was camera shy - this was my farewell to Llívia

I hope you have found this interesting - I won't publish my e-mail address here otherwise I will get spammed to heck but if this is of interest to you, you could join the Yahoo Group "boundarypoint" which exists for people with some rather esoteric boundary interests or "borderpoint" which is somewhat more eclectic, and where you will find the means to e-mail me.