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From May 8 to July 26, 2024, the Olympic Torch Relay will criss-cross France, followed by the Paralympic Torch Relay from August 25 to 28. These two sporting and festive events will also be an opportunity to rediscover France and its heritage.

What is the route of the Olympic Flame and the Paralympic Flame? And what French monuments can you see along the way? We take a look in this article!

This article was produced in collaboration with the Centre des monuments nationaux, which manages 100 monuments throughout France.

Around the Olympic Torch Relay

As tradition dictates, the Flame of the Paris 2024 Games will be lit in Olympia on April 16. It will then travel through Greece for nine days before reaching France by boat, aboard the famous Belem, the last great French sailing ship. On May 8, it will begin its journey in Marseille, France, until its arrival in Paris on July 14.

The Olympic Torch Relay map

After arriving in Marseille, the Flame will travel to the south-west of France before heading back up to Brittany, where it will take to the sea for a “relay of the oceans” where it will criss-cross overseas France. On June 18, it will return to mainland France to visit the Alps, the Loire and the Grand-Est region, before arriving in Paris on July 14.

Carte du parcours relais de la Flamme Olympique

  Sport from Antiquity to the present day: a whole history!

The practice of sport has evolved over the centuries! In the Greek world, it was used to prepare young men for war; in Roman times, the athlete was despised for making a spectacle of himself; in the Middle Ages, physical games were part of everyday life; in the Renaissance, humanism encouraged exercise as a way of getting rid of moods; under the Ancien Régime, physical strength was less valued in favor of skill, grace and poise: above all, it was important to please…

In short, the history of sport has not been a smooth ride! Want to find out more?

L'histoire du sport
The history of sport

3 monuments close to the Olympic Flame

Three monuments will have a front-row seat to the Olympic Flame:

Château d’If, Marseilles, Wednesday May 8

Marseille will be the first stop on the Olympic Flame’s route, and since it will arrive by boat, the Château d’If, located off the coast of the Phocaean city, will be at the heart of the festivities!

Monuments à voir autour du parcours de la Flamme Olympique
Château d’If © Stéphane Aboudaram | WE ARE CONTENT(S)

Thanks Alexandre! 

Built between 1524 and 1531 at the request of François I to protect Marseille, the Château d’If was soon transformed into a terrifying prison. However, the castle is best known for Alexandre Dumas’ novel The Count of Monte Cristo, in which Edmond Dantès was imprisoned.

The castle and ramparts of the city of Carcassonne, Thursday, May 16

A week later, the Flame will enter the city of Carcassonne, an emblematic site of the Cathar country. This will be an opportunity to admire the castle and its ramparts, listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, as the torchbearers enter the castle’s main courtyard.

Redécouvrir les monuments français au passage de la Flamme Olympique 1
The Cité de Carcassonne © DR

Did you know? 

Legend has it that the town, in the hands of the Arab-Berbers, was besieged in the 16th century by Charlemagne. Dame Carcas took the lead in defending the city, but the siege lasted 5 years and food supplies ran out. Dame Carcas came up with the idea of throwing a pig over the ramparts to make Charlemagne’s men believe that the city was overflowing with food. The ploy worked, and the army lifted the siege. The city’s bells rang out so loudly that one of Charlemagne’s men is said to have shouted “Carcas sonne!”, giving the city its name.

Mont-Saint-Michel Abbey, Friday, May 31

At the end of May, the torchbearers will arrive at Mont-Saint-Michel, dominated by the Abbey, a monument standing between sea and sky, offering breathtaking views over the bay.

Le Mont-Saint-Michel

Also worth seeing in the vicinity

Along the 68 stages of this “Tour de France olympique”, 16 other monuments of the Centre des monuments nationaux are to be discovered:

  • Pey-Berland Tower, Bordeaux, Thursday, May 23
  • Charroux Abbey, Saturday May 25
  • Château d’Angers, Tuesday, May 28
  • Reims Cathedral, Sunday, June 30
  • Amiens Cathedral, Thursday, July 4
  • Chartres Cathedral, Sunday, July 7
  • Château de Châteaudun, Sunday, July 7
  • The towers of Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, Sunday, July 14
  • Le Panthéon, Sunday, July 14
  • The July Column, Place de la Bastille, Sunday, July 14
  • The Arc de Triomphe, Monday July 15
  • The Cité internationale de la langue française at the Château de Villers-Cotterêts, Wednesday, July 17
  • Château de Vincennes, Sunday, July 21
  • Villa Savoye, Tuesday, July 23
  • Château de Rambouillet, Tuesday, July 23
  • Saint-Denis Cathedral Basilica, Thursday, July 25 and Friday, July 26

 Great deal: a subscription for unlimited visits to 100 French monuments, alone or in pairs

All these monuments can be visited without limit with the Passion Monuments card. Valid for one year, it gives you access to almost 100 monuments throughout France, and offers many other advantages (discounts in stores and bookshops, access to a digital magazine, special days…).

Abonnement Passion Monuments

A rich cultural program for a healthy mind in a healthy body!

When he created the Olympic Games, Pierre de Coubertin wanted to combine “muscle and spirit”. In keeping with this tradition of blending art and sport, a vast cultural program is being deployed around the Games.

Redécouvrir les monuments français au passage de la Flamme Olympique 2

The Cultural Olympiad 

The Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games Organizing Committee is awarding certain events the “Cultural Olympiad” label. This label recognizes initiatives that combine art and sport.

Several monuments offer exceptional artistic creations:

  • At the Château d’If on May 8, discover a performative version of (LA)HORDE’s “Room with a view”, danced by the Ballet national de Marseille, the Groupe Grenade – Josette Baïz and the Ecole nationale de danse de Marseille. Echoing the history of the monument that was once a prison, this show evokes the suffering of today’s generations as they seek to give meaning to their existence.
  • On the ramparts of Carcassonne on May 16, the Retouramont dance company will take to the skies as night falls, with a show whose choreography echoes the magic of the Olympic cauldron.
  • At Mont-Saint-Michel Abbey on May 31, you can admire the artistic prowess of Compagnie Hors-Surface. From 10 a.m. to midnight, this show, halfway between circus and dance, will evoke the dream of conquering the sky.
  • At the Pantheon, on July 16, 17 and 18, a dance show will be staged in partnership with Chaillot – Théâtre national de la Danse. This monumental show, featuring 35 acrobats from Compagnie XY, 27 dancers from the Ballet de l’Opéra national de Lyon and 50 children from the Maîtrise de Radio France, will reflect the Olympic values of excellence, friendship and respect.
Olympiade culturelle
Möbius Morphosis – Chaillot – Théâtre national de la Danse © Mélissa Waucquier

But that’s not all! There’s also a dance performance on June 29 at the Basilique-cathédrale Saint-Denis, an exhibition on the Ancient Games at the Hôtel de Sade in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence from April 26 to September 22, Marjane Satrapi’s Olympic tapestry at the Hôtel de la Marine on June 21, and an exhibition on Olympism at the Cité internationale de la langue française (Château de Villers-Cotterêts).

Around the Paralympic Torch Relay

A few weeks later, from August 25 to 28, the Paralympic Torch Relay will take place. The Flame will first be lit in England, in Stoke Mandeville, the historic birthplace of Paralympic sport, before crossing the Channel Tunnel to France.

Map of the Paralympic Torch Relay

Unlike the Olympic Flame, there can be several Paralympic Flames. When it arrives in France, it will be divided into 12 Flames, symbolizing the 12 days of the Paralympic Games.

All around France, the 12 Flames will be lit in Calais, Valenciennes, Amnéville, Strasbourg, Thonon-les-Bains, Antibes Juan-les-Pins, Montpelier, Lourdes, La Roche-sur-Yon, Lorient, Saint Malo and Rouen, all converging on Paris.

Carte du parcours relais de la Flamme Paralympique

7 monuments to see near the Paralympic Torch Relay

  • Chartres Cathedral, Monday, August 26, 2024
  • Amiens Cathedral, Monday, August 26, 2024
  • The Saint-Cloud national estate, Tuesday, August 27, 2024
  • Saint-Denis Cathedral Basilica, Tuesday, August 27, 2024
  • The July Column, Place de la Bastille, Wednesday, August 28, 2024
  • Hôtel de Sully, Wednesday, August 28, 2024
  • Hôtel de la Marine on Wednesday, August 28, 2024

 LEARN MORE: Hôtel de la Marine, a new living space in Paris

Hôtel de la Marine

An exhibition at the Pantheon on Paralympic Stories

From June 11 to September 29, the Panthéon will be presenting an exhibition looking back at four key moments in the history of the Paralympic Games:

Exposition Histoires Paralympiques au Panthéon
  • The “hospital” games were born in the middle of the 20th century at the Stoke Mandeville Hospital in the United Kingdom, with the aim of promoting rehabilitative sport;
  • The creation of the first Paralympic Games in Rome in 1960, followed by the creation of the International Paralympic Committee in 1989;
  • The expansion of Paralympic disciplines, opening the door to deaf athletes and those with intellectual disabilities, between 1989 and 2012;
  • The modern era, since 2012 and the London Games, when the Paralympic Games were fully embraced by the media.

So, are you ready for a cultural Games?

Article produced in collaboration with the Centre des monuments nationaux

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