La Grande Bleue, the great blue, is what the French tenderly call the Mediterranean. These days many are again dreaming of sun, sand, sea, of the glitter and the sounds of the water between Gibraltar and Bosporus, Mallorca or Malta.
Dreaming? Rather, it becomes a nightmare when you follow Alexis Marant’s excellent documentary on Arte. Mass tourism on the beach and at sea, overfishing, pollution, and as a new threat the skyscrapers with keels, the cruise ships off Barcelona or in Venice.
One per cent of water, 300 Million guests
According to the film, one per cent of the water on this planet attracts 300 million people every year, in addition to the increase in the number of coastal dwellers, who, today, make up 150 million and will probably be 250 million in 20 years’ time.
Hardly anywhere else can you see that humans consume this planet – and that out of sheer love. The guests on the Croatian coast or on the islands in the Mediterranean Sea don’t feel like destroyers at all. Yet they are.
According to Alexis Marant, 500 million holidaymakers are expected to crowd around the Mediterranean in ten years’ time. Well, some will say, all a question of wise organisation and appropriate behaviour: With about 46,000 kilometres of coastline, the Mediterranean offers a lot of space, and its area of 2.5 million square metres, five times the size of France, would somehow be able to cope with 500 million sun worshippers.
We Europeans are the main perpetrators
I strongly recommend to watch this film first, to get in the mood and be deterred. Incidentally, we Europeans are the main perpetrators in the Mediterranean.
By the way, there’s one particular issue the authors of the film don’t raise, as it is not their issue in this film: for all the world to see, the Mediterranean is also the scene of a refugee drama. Thousands are drowning year after year in search of a better future. Numbers can only be estimated. The EU mission “Sophia” has rescued about 45,000 people from distress at sea – the mission was cancelled in March under pressure from Italy. In Rome, people were understandably annoyed that most EU states did not even want to talk about a fair distribution of the rescued.
Braudel was a lover of la Grande Bleue
Whoever travels the Mediterranean delves into the centuries, the great French historian Fernand Braudel once wrote, who was also a lover of la Grande Bleue. “He finds the Roman world in Lebanon, prehistory in Sardinia, the Greek cities in Sicily, the Arab presence in Spain, the Turkish Islam in the Balkans.”
It is not advisable to search for clues on site. Because the Mediterranean is drowned by the masses.
And now everyone: Have a nice holiday!