Football star Eugénie Le Sommer lit the celebration cauldron. PARIS 2024

The return of the Olympic Torch to Brittany was welcomed with enthusiasm and provided an excellent opportunity to showcase the Morbihan, an Atlantic region with an attractive coastline and a rich historical heritage.

Highlights of the day included a joint relay organised by the French Para Sports Federation in Lorient and 124 torchbearers taking turns to carry the Olympic torch, including France women's football international Eugénie Le Sommer, who lit the cauldron in Vannes at the end of the day. 

On the 26th stage of the relay, the torch continued its journey through the west of France. It continued its discovery of the Atlantic coast by exploring the Morbihan. With 905 km of coastline, islands, heritage sites and ports, the département faces the sea, as its name suggests: in the local dialect of Brittany, 'Mor-bihan' means 'little sea'. The day began in Lorient, "the city of five ports". 

Then it was inland to an area full of chapels, megaliths and manor houses. In Sainte-Anne-d'Auray, the Torch passed by the Sanctuary, the Basilica and the Scala Sancta, following in the footsteps of the many visitors who make this the third most visited pilgrimage site in France. The relay visites Pontivy before passing near to two impressive castles: Rochefort-en-Terre Castle, built on a rocky outcrop in the 12th century, and the Louis XII-style Josselin. 

The Torch was taken to the island of Ile-aux-Moines, the pearl of the Gulf of Morbihan, on board a vessel belonging to the French lifeboat organisation. It was carried along past the pretty, colourful huts on the Plage du Dréhen beach before returning to Vannes, where the celebration site was set up on the Eric Tabarly quay. 

Lorient experienced an intense morning with the Olympic Torch Relay. PARIS 2024
Lorient experienced an intense morning with the Olympic Torch Relay. PARIS 2024

A collective relay was organised in Lorient between Avenue du Général De Gaulle and Les Halles de Merville. It was dedicated to the Para sports movement, which has been growing steadily since the beginning of the 20th century, thanks to the efforts of the French Para Sports Federation. 

The captain, 14-year-old wheelchair fencer Léonie Saliou, was joined by 23 club members in carrying the Torch, which symbolises a more inclusive society that makes sport accessible to all. Among them were Wendy Bazire, a para-horse rider, Laura Kersuzan, a para-football and para-cycling athlete, François James, a deaf and hearing-impaired basketball player who took part in two Deaflympics, and Grégory Leray, a para-cyclist and club president. 

More than 124 torchbearers took it in turns to light up the Morbihan. The first was Arnaud Fravolo, a table tennis player from Lorient. There were also many members of the public with a passion for sport and a desire to spread the values of the Olympic Games (inclusion, solidarity, diversity)

Para sports played a central role in the 26th stage of the Olympic Torch Relay. PARIS 2024
Para sports played a central role in the 26th stage of the Olympic Torch Relay. PARIS 2024

These included the swimmer Cléo Renou, a member of the French Adapted Sports Team, Bénédicte Le Moal, who raises awareness and funds for the fight against breast cancer through the annual sports event 'La Vannetaise', and Florian Tournebise, goalkeeper for an inclusive football club in London and a major campaigner against homophobia. 

Two well-known personalities were among the torchbearers: reporter François-Xavier Ménage and Olympic expert Alexandre Boyon. Another celebrity had the honour of lighting the cauldron: Eugénie Le Sommer. The France international, the country's all-time leading goalscorer, has won eight Champions and 12 French league titles. She started with the clubs of Morbihan, where her family still lives. Her arrival was greeted with enthusiasm.