Llivia – a Spanish enclave

Llívia is a town in the comarca of Cerdanya, province of Girona, Catalonia, Spain. It is a Spanish exclave surrounded by the French département of Pyrénées-Orientales. In 2009, the municipality of Llívia had a total population of 1,589. It is separated from the rest of Spain by a corridor about 1.6 km wide, which includes the French communes of Ur and Bourg-Madame.

In 1659, the Treaty of the Pyrenees ceded the comarques of Roussillon, Conflent, Capcir, Vallespir, and northern Cerdanya (“Cerdagne”) to the French Crown.

Llívia did not become part of the Kingdom of France as the treaty stipulated that only villages were to be ceded to France, and Llívia was considered a town (vila in Catalan) and not a village because of its status as the ancient capital of Cerdanya. During the Franco era, residents required special passes to cross France to the rest of Spain. Today, with these countries in the Schengen Area, there are no frontier formalities. Both countries share a hospital, as well as other local initiatives. The enclave is connected to Spain by the D68. Local French residents take advantage of the lower fuel prices.

When the border was established between France and Spain in 1868 the border between Llivia and France was demarcated with 45 border markers.  Most of these markers are simple chunks of stone, numbered consecutively and marked with “LL” on the Llívian side and initials representing the nearest French village on the French side; a few markers were made by carving numbers and letters into existing rocks. 

My plan was to walk the Llivia circuit from one border marker to another. As it is a circle it does not matter where to begin. I spread the walk over 2 days, walking from border marker #4 parking my car in the small French village of Onzès. On the first day I walked between #4 and #25 stopping at the French camping site of La Griole. The route from #21 to #23 took longer than I anticipated (not helped with difficulties in finding #22 and #24). Getting a lift back to my start was easier there. If transport links were not an issue, perhaps stopping at #30 would have made a more complete day. Day 2 after getting a lift to the start was from #26 to #3 which again was a full day. It would be possible to “bag” some border markers by using a car, others are too far from anywhere.

In terms of the hike my top tips are wear long walking trousers and shirt as the schrub and brambles are vicious. Be prepared for lots of climbing over walls and ducking under fences, wading rivers and spending time walking around in small circles trying to find that “one” border marker which is hidden away. Sometimes there are nice tracks or trails, a lot of the time it is walking across fields and climbing out of valleys. A reasonable level of fitness is required.

The bordermarkers are always marked LL (Llivia on one side) and then have a number of letters that link to the local French villages.
GPS track from Eef Berns marking the position of each of the 45 border markers. Note the gap between : #21 and #22.

Llivia (South) Border markers (Bne) #42 to #21 shown moving from west (L) to east (R)

A further map is available here

Llivia Gallery BM #1 to BM#21

Border marker #1 at the SW on the enclave on the main road (N 154) into Llivia. This marker was well weathered and no markings were visible.

Border marker #2 hiding in a hedge, one of the markers that was replaced between 2000 and 2001.

Border marker #3 is in the middle of a field (many are) which raises the question about land ownership. I assume the tyres are there to protect the pillar. C refers to the French village of Caldégas. This was the last one of the 45 I visited so very pleased to see this one.

Border marker #4 walking along a trail within woods this BM was hiding away behind several trees. Covered in moss and vegetation. Lots of tidying up over the 2 days.

Border marker #5 was hidden away on the edge of a field deep within a hedgerow. Without the GPS track it would have been very difficult to find it. Some BM’s were sited in such a way their reverse side was not accessible.

Border marker #6 another marker in a hedgerow – all of them seemed to contain plants that stung or scratched. Sign noting private property in Spanish.

Border marker #7 easy to locate in a field. Similar signs were found at various points around the circuit. SL stands for Ste-Léocadie

Border marker #8 was interesting as it involved both a new and old border marker, I wonder why the old one was not removed, With a couple of friends and a trailer I could have had a new garden ornament. SL stands for Ste-Léocadie.

Border marker #9 easily found next to a wooden post on the edge of a field.

Border marker #10 had added interest, it was close to an airfield (mainly for gliders it appeared) and had a French national geographic society geodensic sign attached.

Border marker #11 Another border marker hiding away in a hedgerow and difficult to view.

Border marker #12 first of very many river crossing of the day and a relief to walk directly to this BM

Border marker #13 located by a wall. If I were to do this again, I would have brought secateurs to cut away the undergrowth.

Border marker #14 an nice new impressive marker.

Border marker #15 on the side of a nice path – easy to access. A faded sign (‘reserved hunting area’  in spanish)

Border marker #16S with its missing twin. Llivia sign too (although with graffitti).

Border marker #16N like other people doing the circuit although the treaty clearly says there are 2 border markers at this point, the northern one is not there. I wonder why they have not replaced it with a new one.

Border marker #17LL and #17F LL being the older one. Nice to get a picture of the pair. This was the first pair (not counting #16 of course) up to #20.

Border marker #18LL and 18FR. Both smaller markers hidden away at the side of the track. Difficult to get clear photos of them on either side. Maybe one day I will go back and get better ones!!

Border marker #19LL and #19FR since others have been here these markers appear more weathered and less distinctive. LL adjacent to a rock whilst FR on the other side of the track by a tree.

Border marker #20LL and #20#FR with the the smaller marker being on the LL side and the one with painted lettering being on the FR side. it was great walking down the lane with marks on each side but the hedgerows prevented from a clear view in most instances.

Border marker #21 back to single markers now, this one nicely painted on each side.

Border marker #21.1 located on a small hill, a pleasant spot for lunch.

Llivia Gallery BM #22 to BM#45 Click Here

8 thoughts on “Llivia – a Spanish enclave

  1. Hola Barry, we are the spanish “bm’s” friends of Eef Berns (possible visit to 602).
    We had also all the bms of Llivia in our web, in 2016 , the markings of #1, were very visible.
    You are right, someones are difficult to find, and you know why someones have the number very visible in “black” ???’…… imagine !

    You can see in http://www.carlosyconchita.net/bornas-mojones.

    Saludos, and about the garden, only someones can do this : look at https://photos.google.com/share/AF1QipOJb5VAKYxT7Ef7BCgHe4q3GGoS_HqE_jqZsMohKwVYgXeWs86Mdp1mc0STrhNHJw?key=YlBVN2dQa2dmcFBqcHJUckd6eUc2VklKbk45ZTZR

    the “482F-antigua” , the old 482F in the garden of a police building !

    Carlos y Conchita

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear Sir,
    Thanks a lot for this informative article.
    Would it be possible to take some of the photos you have posted and include it in my upcoming book about enclaves and exclaves of the world?
    Wish you all the best


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