Torch Relay Stage 13: Dordogne and its amazing history. PARIS 2024

The flamboyant Dordogne region welcomed the Olympic Torch Relay for this 13th stage, from Bergerac to Périgueux, after a special Tuesday when it was the main attraction at the Cannes Film Festival and its famous red carpet.

Wednesday's highlight was a visit to the Lascaux IV archaeological site, where the collective fencing relay celebrated France's most decorated Olympic discipline (44 gold, 43 silver and 36 bronze medals) in an exceptional setting. More than a hundred torchbearers carried the torch, including sports personalities such as Thomas Chinours, the French youth shooting champion who lit the Olympic Cauldron in front of a large crowd. 

Bergerac, with its narrow medieval streets and half-timbered houses, was the first town to be visited on the day. In Saint-Aulaye-Puymangou, the Olympic Torch was placed on a hill overlooking the Dronne river from the atypical 12th century fortified town. This circuit is classed as one of the ten most beautiful trails in the Périgord area. 

The Olympic Torch also made its way to the ochre medieval town of Sarlat-la-Canéda and the ramparts dating back to the Middle Ages in Nontron, with its tradition of cutlery making. It illuminated the reconstruction of the famous prehistoric site at Montignac-Lascaux, before moving on to Agonac. 

The journey ended in Périgueux, the capital of the Périgord and a Gallo-Roman city renowned for its heritage, with 53 listed buildings, including the Romanesque cathedral of Saint Front, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Vesunna Tower and the Périgord Art and Archaeology Museum were also featured on 22 May. 

The Lascaux IV site, an integral part of the country's historical heritage, was the venue for the day's collective relay, which focused on the 128 Olympic medals won by France in fencing. Captain Paolo Bois-Rolet, a young man deeply involved in his club as a fencer and referee, and dedicated to passing on his passion, carried the Olympic torch alongside 23 other members of the French Fencing Federation. 

Among them was Laurent Sabeau, who started fencing at a very young age in his grandfather's club in Bergerac before creating his own departmental club in 2012. Also present were Brice Perek, the first French champion in light sabre, and Lisa Ferrandon, a member of the club. All the weapons used in fencing were represented (sabre, foil and epee), as well as artistic fencing, which involves choreographed fights performed in competition. 

Valérie Galli, twice World Team Champion and a pioneer of women's fencing in France, once again contributed to the glory of this discipline by carrying the Olympic torch in Périgueux. She was a member of the first women's épée team in 1987, a discipline in which women were not allowed to compete.
A relay under the banner of solidarity and inclusion.

Germain Pouch, a member of 'Vaincre la Mucoviscidose', also took to the stage. In her thirties, she has been battling this disease, which mainly affects the lungs, since she was born. She was replaced by Maryse Lajonie, president of 'P'tits Bouts', an association for children with cystic fibrosis.

In Sarlat-la-Canéda, it was the turn of Anne-Sophie Bobovnikoff, director of the Fondation de l'Isle, which promotes the values of adapted sport under the motto 'To each his or her own challenge'. Annie Rubellin carries the torch in Lascaux. She has been a volunteer for many years with the Emmaüs charity, which helps the underprivileged, and is president of the Brive branch. 

These heroes were joined by sports personalities such as Brice Guyart, team foil Olympic champion at the Sydney Games and individual foil Olympic champion at the Athens Games, Laurent Jalabert, former professional cyclist with 130 titles and victories, Gaëlle Mignot, former member of the French women's rugby union team and current selector and coach of the women's national team, and Yoann Kowal, middle and long-distance runner. 

Thomas Chinours, a young shooter who joined the CREPS sports centre in Talence and is aiming to qualify for Los Angeles 2028, lit the cauldron on the Place Tourny in Périgueux.