Torch Relay Stage 3: Sunshine in Alpes-de-Haute-Provence. PARIS 2024

The third day of the Olympic Torch Relay on French roads gave a taste of the art of living in Provence. The route took in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, Sisteron, Digne-les-Bains, Forcalquier and Barcelonnette. Alain Boghossian, Odiah Sidibé and Adeline Bilal were some of the celebrities born and bred in Provence who carried the Olympic torch.

The torch also took part in the region's official sport, climbing, thanks to a team relay organised by the French Mountaineering and Climbing Federation. In Manosque, it was Ophélie-Cyrielle Etienne, bronze medallist in the 4x200m freestyle at the London Games, who brought the day to a close, greeted by the crowds who had gathered for the festivities. 

From the pristine splendour of the Alps to the art of living in Provence, the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence département has a unique appeal. The stage began at Verdon, in the shadow of the cliffs overlooking Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. It then explored the narrow streets of the citadel in Sisteron before heading to the Rocher de la Baume. They also visited the Fort de Savoie in Colmars-les-Alpes and Notre-Dame-du-Bourguet Cathedral in Forcalquier. Finally, the Olympic torch made its way to Barcelonnette and on to the celebration site in Manosque. 

Former international footballer Alain Boghossian and Odiah Sidibé, an Olympian at Barcelona'92 and Atlanta'96 in Digne-les-Bains; Adeline Bilal, world silver medallist in the para-triathlon in Forcalquier; Esther Baron, a decade-long star of the French national swimming team with an impressive collection of medals. Elise Allasia, one of the voices of the moment thanks to her soul and R&B beats, also waved to the crowds lining the streets. 

Manosque was the beating heart of the celebrations on 11 May. Locals and visitors gathered at the Parc de la Rochette - the town's main sports venue - as the sun began to dip towards the horizon. The city pulled out all the stops with a sports festival, a parade of floats, a superb performance by 180 young people from local dance schools who performed the Dance of the Games on the sports field, a concert and much more.

The French Federation of Mountaineering and Climbing organised its team relay on the Falaise de la Baume in Sisteron, in an incomparable natural rock climbing site that the climbers of the region have come to adore. The Olympic Torch followed Thierry Delarue, the captain of the team relay, all the way up the mountain. Delarue, a member of the French national team and four-time world champion, is the epitome of French para-climbing. 

He was flanked by a team of 23 climbing enthusiasts, including Bertrand David, who has been volunteering for more than three decades and loves to introduce others to the sport, and 13-year-old Bilal Keltoumi, who inherited his passion for rock climbing from his father; Sabine Ladel, whose involvement in rock climbing helped her to make new social contacts after her disability had limited her social life; Luis Trullenque Gallén, president of the local climbing club and owner of the climbing shop at the foot of the cliff; and Kira Engle, who trains climbers at the Roc et Falaise club. 

Sandrine Noguès Besson paid an emotional tribute to her mother, Colette Besson, who won gold in the 400 metres at the 1968 Games in Mexico. The daughter of the former athlete, who was a role model for an entire generation, celebrated her mother's life in Forcalquier. Colette Besson fought for women's sport as a tool for education and empowerment. Her sister, Stéphanie Noguès Besson, will also pay tribute to her in Cassis on Sunday. 

Next up is a stop in the Bouches-du-Rhône, another place where land meets sea. After two days in Marseille, the Olympic torch will light up the other emblematic cities and sites of the département on a route from Cassis to Arles, which will host a team relay on the theme of volleyball.