Marseille  is a city with  its own identity, air and ambience  and this is what the youngsters had to discover via an activity called “Paperchase”. Divided into groups they had a mission… walk through the city by following written instructions and complete tasks that would make them see what this new for them city is like! Le Panier, Noailles, Cours Julien, La Plaine and  Palais Longchamp were some of the destinations waiting to be explored by the groups on the 2nd of  October.


About this … and even more


Polis means “city” in ancient Greek, thus “Ecopolis” is the ecological city.

It is also the acronym of an exchange project with young people organized by the NGO Eurocircle, within the framework of action 1.1 of the European Program “Youth in Action”. This exchange took place in Marseille from September 27th till October 4th, 2009. 20 young French people from Romania, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland came for a week of activities centred on the sustainable development and environmental protection.


National dinners for Intercultural Exchange by food


Every evening hearing voices in the kitchen I was asking myself about the next delicious surprise… The Ecopolis organizators’ idea of national dinners was welcomed by all the participants of the exchange. It was a nice chance for everyone to taste a great Algerian couscous, exceptional Slovakian galoushkis, Greek moussaka and rizogalo, quite exotic for Eastern Europe teams, an excellent Hungarian goulash or a hot Polish soup. Keeping good memories of these marvelous dishes do not forget the evening when due to an electricity problem the luckiest were those who found a piece of pizza and a can beerJJJ. It is part and parcel of the adventure experience!!!


Relaxation lessons on the beach


Between two sessions of sustainable development education and beach cleaning, an hour of relaxation and stress-management lesson given by our Slovakian guests. In our everyday struggle for Eco Friendly world everybody needs a break to enjoy the fresh sea air and sweet moments on the beach , especially if it is on the 1st October!


Protecting our environment


Every single day we try to become richer, to consume, to improve our lifestyle, our status, our looks, our house, but not our mind, not our soul, not our home-planet. We all claim that the youth is the future; our hope. However, various educational systems have failed to provide young people with an ecological consciousness that could enhance the protection of the environment. This is what Ecopolis team tried to do via various activities that form what we call “non-formal learning”. The participants visited the area of “le bain des Dames” where they had to collect the waste they found on the beach and then divide it into categories according to the material. An introduction to the subject of pollution and the actual process of recycling followed before leaving. Afterwards, they all had the chance to take a swim at the beach of Prado and experience the “calanques” that give to the coast of Marseille its famous rocky landscape.

Under the blue sky, a discussion about the dangers of neglecting the protection of our natural environment and the economical stakes that surround every effort towards ecology was food for thought for every participant. A walk across the rocks till the departure point closed the activity with a bit of adventure and satisfied youngsters!


Third day: The Frioul islands


Just a few miles away from Marseille we can find the four islands in the Frioul archipelago: Pomegues, Ratonneau, If and Tiboulen. Despite their small size, they are historically significant dating  back around 600 B.C. when they began to be used as a stopover for Mediterranean sailors, warriors, or adventurers . They were subsequently used to put ship’s crews in quarantine to protect the city of Marseille from epidemics, while in the 19th century the Caroline Hospital was built to care for the patients suffering from yellow fever.

Ecopolis team in collaboration with the Mediterannean Institute of the Littoral organised a whole day in the islands where again in groups the youngsters discovered their past and current state filling a questionnary either by interviewing the inhabitants or visiting the area and observing its particular character. Our interest was concentrated on the environmental importance of the Frioul: calanques,beaches,inlets, towering rocky outcrops form the islands which are still protected due to the micro-climate that engenders 200 plant species such as the sea lavender, the sand lilly and the samphire. Many sea birds also find refuge to the islands, including the famous yellow-legged gul “le gabian”. One of the missions of the youngsters was to try to identify those species and learn more about their important existance on the island, the effort being made to protect them and the economical issues related as well. However,they had enough time to take a swim in the crystal clear water and relax surrounded by the Mediterranean nature before going back to Marseille’s city centre!


Second day: Discovering the bay


The day began with a presentation of  each participant and the partner organization in brief, while some quick games helped break the ice and get the amount of energy needed for the very first activity.

A walk by the city centre led us up to “Palais du Pharo” from where we could have a panoramic view of the bay. Our mission was to form groups and discover the economical aspects of life in Marseille as far as the port was concerned. This was done by exploring the area on foot and taking photos of all the types of boats that corresponded to a different activity; pleasure, sailing, fishing boats and a lot more!Apart from the photos, a survey about the actual use of the boats and the problems related to it contributed to our interaction with the French people.


First day : Arrival of the participants


By plain, by car, by train or … on foot; each partner had chosen his own way to reach the train station of Marseille where the Eurocircle team was, so as to welcome the participants who had their first chance  to explore the city centre that afternoon. The rest of the day was dedicated to a presentation of  the exchange and its aims, sustainable development and an ecological way of life.

At night, cozy ambience and friendly conversations took place in the social sentre Tivoli, having as a view the magnificent colours of the mediterranean sky.

Faces we had never seen became familiar in few days…