The Olympic flame reached French soil around eleven weeks before the Games in Paris. The flame arrived in Marseille aboard the three-master Belem and was accompanied by fireworks. Jets belched out smoke in the colors of the French flag.

In the port, the flame was handed over to the first torchbearers, swimmer Florent Manaudou and Paralympic runner Nantenin Keïta. What caused a surprise was that the Marseille rapper Jul then lit the Olympic flame. There was previously speculation as to whether football legend Zinédine Zidane would take on this role. According to the television station BFM, 120,000 people watched the spectacle on site in the port. French President Emmanuel Macron was also present.

From Marseille, the torch will travel across the host country of this year’s Olympic Games. The torch relay stops include the memorial sites of the two world wars in Verdun and Normandy, the Palace of Versailles, the Lascaux cave and the castles in the Loire Valley. The French overseas territories are also visited before the fire reaches the capital. The Paris Olympics will take place from July 26th to August 11th.

The fire for the games was lit on April 16th in the ancient site of Olympia on the Peloponnese peninsula. It then travelled through Greece in a torch relay before being carried on board the ship.