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Thursday, May 9, 2024

#SportyPeachy #FrancePeachy #ParisPeachy After its long-awaited arrival on French soil, the Olympic Flame was welcomed by an electric atmosphere in Marseille and an emblematic trio of first torchbearers: Florent Manaudou, Nantenin Keita and JuL

The Media Torch relay from the Paris Olympics Tells Whom You Know:

The arrival of the Flame in Marseille is the fruit of a collective ambition. Paris 2024, the City of Marseille, the Metropolis of Aix-Marseille-Provence, the Bouches-du-Rhône Department and the Southern Region have all rallied round, with the support of the French government, to make this an historic event alongside the sponsors of the Olympic Torch Relay: Coca-Cola, Banque Populaire and Caisse d'Epargne.

After 12 days sailing the Mediterranean aboard the Belem, the three-masted ship for which Caisse d'Epargne is the main sponsor, the Olympic Flame made a grand entrance into Marseille's Old Port at 7pm local time on 8 May, where it was met by an emblematic trio of first torchbearers on French soil: Florent Manaudou, Nantenin Keita and JuL. The arrival of the Flame was celebrated by over 150,000 people in the Old Port in the presence of the President of the Republic, on a spectacular and festive day in the city of Marseille, the first stopover for the Olympic Torch Relay in France. Here's a look back at this historic day, full of emotion, surprises and pride.

Florent Manaudou, Nantenin Keita and JuL: three symbolic and unifying profiles to carry the Flame in the Old Port

After a day of parades, the Belem docked at around 7.45pm local time in the Old Port, to the cheers of the many Olympique de Marseille supporters present for the occasion. For this historic arrival of the Flame in France, it was important for Paris 2024 to choose an Olympian as the first torchbearer. It was swimmer, Olympic champion and four-time medallist Florent Manaudou, captain of the Olympic Torch Relay, who took the Olympic Torch out of its case, a unique trunk specially designed by Louis Vuitton, before lighting it using a lantern. A member of the Cercle des nageurs de Marseille, Florent Manaudou, a native of Marseille by adoption, symbolically passed the baton to Nantenin Keita, Paralympic champion and four-time medallist in the 100m, 200m and 400m. Already qualified for the Paris 2024 Games, she is also strongly committed to the integration of people with disabilities. As in Athens, where French Olympic and Paralympic champions Gabriella Papadakis and Béatrice Hess passed the torch, Paris 2024 has chosen two Olympic and Paralympic athletes to carry the Flame to Marseille. This first handover on French soil symbolises Paris 2024's ambition to bring the Olympic and Paralympic Games closer together.

After being cheered by the crowd, Nantenin Keita handed the Torch to the singer JuL, who lit the cauldron on the central stage of the Old Port. Paris 2024 has chosen an iconic ambassador from Marseille to represent the youth, energy and festive spirit that characterise the Olympic Torch Relay. A native of Marseille, where he still lives, his music attracts millions of fans across France. Like our Olympic and Paralympic champions, he has racked up record sales: over 8.2 million albums sold in 10 years, the highest in the history of French rap, and in the last decade for any musical genre. A key figure in the city of Marseille, JuL was the obvious choice to take part in the first leg of the event, which kicks off the Olympic Games.

"I wanted the Flame to be welcomed to Marseille by emblematic personalities who embody what we are going to honour and celebrate through the Relay: Florent Manaudou, an iconic athlete of his generation; the first Relay in France to be handed over to Paralympic athlete Nantenin Keita, to symbolise our ambition to bring the Olympic and Paralympic Games closer together; and JuL, an emblematic figure from Marseille, a popular artist who has racked up a string of records and embodies the festive spirit of the Relay. " Tony Estanguet, President of Paris 2024.

More than 1,000 boats and 150,000 people in attendance for a historic event

After departing from the port of Piraeus in Greece on 27 April, the Belem appeared on the horizon off the coast of Marseille early in the morning of 8 May with 3 Angels of the Flame on board and 16 committed Forerunners aged 17 to 25, who experienced a unique 12-day crossing of the Mediterranean Sea. The passage through the Corinth Canal, the crossing of the Straits of Messina... these impressive and magnificent images of the Belem at sea were seen around the world! The three-masted schooner entered Marseille's northern harbour at around 11am local time, the starting point for an impressive six-hour parade through the north and south harbours. From 11am to 5pm, the Belem paraded along the coast, accompanied by a spectacular armada of 1,024 local boats, all on hand to celebrate the arrival of the three-masted ship and her crew.

A memorable, festive day full of surprises

From the Belem's entry into the North Harbour at 11am to its majestic arrival in the Old Port at the end of the afternoon, the Flame was welcomed with a succession of festivities, workshops and performances. First there were the nautical workshops, with 526 additional boats: jousts, light sails, old riggings, traditional oars, barquettes marseillaises, rowing, kayaking, canoeing... Then there was an artistic performance at the Château d'If, with 37 dancers from La Horde, the Marseille ballet, and the Compagnie Grenade, who performed "Room with a view" to music by Rone, the leading DJ on the French electro scene. A plea for raw, instinctive dance, this "Cultural Olympiad" creation was immersed in the exceptional setting of the Château d'If.

Invited to gather from 5pm onwards around the central stage set up on the Old Port, the public and the many VIPs present were able to watch the rest of the festivities and artistic performances in the colours of Marseille: comedy with the Marseille stand-ups Lison Daniel and Moustazou, and also a breaking show with the Marseille troupe Original Rockerz Crew. After the impressive Torch formed in the air using 800 luminous drones on 26 April in Marseille, then a pyrotechnic show with hundreds of drones yesterday as a prelude to the prologue, the skies over Marseille were once again the focus of attention: the show continued in the air, with an exceptional show by the Patrouille de France, who not only flew around but also drew the Olympic rings in the sky. The evening continued with the honouring of another symbol of France and the city of Marseille, the Marseillaise, sung a capella by Marseille tenor Naestro, nicknamed the "Pavarotti of the street". This former karate champion with an extraordinary voice discovered opera in prison: singing gave him a new lease of life, to the point where he decided to make it his profession.

At the end of this thrilling performance, the official musical theme of Paris 2024 was revealed and performed by the Orchestre national de Marseille from the Palais du Pharo: this original soundtrack composed by Victor Le Masne, Director of Music for the Ceremonies and composer of the Paris 2024 musical theme, will accompany the Games from the Olympic Torch Relay to the celebration and competition venues.

Coca-Cola will round off this historic day with a free concert by Soprano and Alonzo

After the cauldron is lit, Marseille singers Soprano and Alonzo, founding members of the group Psy 4 de la rime, will set the stage alight in the Old Port with a free concert organised by Coca-Cola. The artists will be performing their signature songs on a floating stage.

To round off a day packed with highlights and emotions, this concert will kick off the Olympic Torch Relay across France! The Olympic Flame and its 10,000 torchbearers will criss-cross France and its overseas territories for 69 days, passing through more than 450 towns and covering 17,000 kilometres until the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games on 26 July. On the programme: festivities, encounters, showcasing the region's heritage and talents...

On 9 May, the Flame will showcase Marseille and its people

Tomorrow, the Flame will pass through the most emblematic places in the city of Marseille, from Notre-Dame de la Garde to the Stade Vélodrome. The first team of torchbearers on 9 May will be Olympique de Marseille. It will begin and end symbolically with two of Marseille's most iconic footballers, Basile Boli and Didier Drogba, alongside other footballers Eric Di Meco, Jean-Pierre Papin and Valentin Rongier, as well as the 82-year-old torchbearer Colette Cataldo, one of OM's oldest supporters, and Louisa Necib, a French international footballer from Marseille who played for Olympique Lyonnais.

A land of many sports, far beyond football, Marseille has seen the birth and/or development of many other top-level athletes who will be taking part in the Marseille leg of the Olympic Torch Relay as torchbearers: fencer Pascale Trinquet-Hachin, born in Marseille and the first French individual Olympic fencing champion in 1980; skateboarder Vincent Matheron, also born in Marseille, who excelled at the Tokyo Games; swimmers Frédérick Bousquet and Fabien Gilot, Olympic medallists and members of the Cercle des nageurs de Marseille; Olympic champion céiste Denis Gargaud Chanut, amember of the Marseille Mazargues club; and athlete Anouk Garnier, an ambassador for the Paris 2024 volunteers programme, who has just set a new world record for rope climbing, rising 110 metres under the Eiffel Tower... Alongside these Marseillais by birth and adoption, a number of well-known sportsmen and women will also be relaying the Flame on 9 May, including international basketball players Tony Parker and Nando de Colo.

Last but not least, the Flame will also be carried by public figures with close ties to Marseille: Marseille-based comedian Redouane Bougheraba, Michelin-starred chef and head of the Village des Athlètes restaurant Alexandre Mazzia, whose eponymous three-Michelin-starred establishment is located in the city, actress Nicole Ferroni, who grew up near Marseille, French television presenter Camille Combal, who studied here, and writer and actor Adda Abdelli, who for the past ten years has been promoting disability by co-creating and co-writing the successful series Vestiaires, which breaks taboos by featuring actors with disabilities. In all, approximately 200 torchbearers will pass the Flame to each other during this leg in Marseille, thefirst in a long series of festivities* across the country!

* For more information, consult the map of the Olympic Torch Relay stages:

Photo credits :

Paris2024 / Fanny Magot

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