Puigcerdà – Bourg Madame

Puigcerda is the main Catalan town in the Pyrenees, on the border with France practically joined to Bourg Madame on the French side of the border. I took the opportunity of taking the little Yellow Train (Le Petit Train Jaune) from Villefranche-de-Conflent thereby combining 2 hobbies in one. Bourg Madame is not particularly interesting but its border location meant there were several border markers and crossings to explore. A short walk from the train station hopefully would allow me to find a number of border markers and have time to cross into Puigcerdà for some lunch before getting the train back.

Border marker #483 is found in a drainage ditch just before the bridge adjacent to the Segre River.

Border marker #482 (French side) is a small disk inserted into the road surface. Most likely to replace a more traditional stone one when the road was built.

Border marker #481 (French side) is similarly a small disk inserted into the road surface. Most likely to replace a more traditional stone one when the road was built.

Border marker #481 (Spanish side) is hidden away in the garden of a derilict Spanish Mansion (once a very grand house). Walk along a river bank, climb a wall with barbed wire – no problem.

In France, looking into Spain.
Looking north with Spain to the left and France to the right.
Looking south, France to the left and Spain to the right.
Welcome to Spain.

#480 (S) on the left and #480 (N) on the right.

On arrival at the bridge I know that there were 2 border markers #480, one north and one south. However the barriers initially confused me and I could not work out there they were. Eventually the penny dropped and I moved the barriers to see them properly.

A short walk to along the main road into Spain brought me to the disused Customs and Passport Control buildings.

Second Visit

There are many border markers in this area and my plan was never to try and see all of them. However on the outskirts of Puigcerdà there is an old bridge over the Rahur with BM’s #477, both markers are unusually on the parapets. The old bridge leads to a French farmhouse whose occupants need to enter Spain everytime they wish to drive anywhere.

Looking from France into Spain
A French plate on the bridge (no Corresponding Spanish one).
BM 477 (S)
BM 477 (N)
BM 477 (S)
BM 477 (N)
Looking from Spain into France

Sometimes it’s about the journey too…

The Little Yellow Train runs from Villefranche de Conflent, 50 km from Perpignan, to Latour de Carol, well up in the Pyrenees near the Spanish town of Puigcerda. It is a 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 3⁄8 in) gauge railway. The line, which was begun in 1903 and was completed in 1927, is a spectacular feat of civil engineering, and apart from the dozens of mostly short tunnels, there are many viaducts and bridges. These include the Pont Gisclard, or Pont de Cassagne, which is the only railway suspension bridge in France (see photo below). The line is single-track with passing loops at, for example, Mont-Louis and Fontpédrouse-Saint-Thomas-les-Bains. The trains are powered by electricity at 850 volts DC, supplied by third rail. The power is supplied by hydro-electric generators on the River Têt.

The “Le Petit Train Jaune” route connects 22 stations (some of which you have to ask the conductor to stop the train at). It also visits Bolquère-Eyne station which is the highest station on the SCNF network (but not France) at 1593m. The train is named after its yellow and red colours

References:

  1. The bordermarkers of the Pyrenees : all markers ( Eef Berns) Website here
  2. Markers of the Spanish-French border in Girona “Treaty of the Pyrenees (1659-1868)” Website here

Dates of Visit: 09.08.2020 and 11.08.2020

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