Olympic Torch Stage 35: The Vaucluse and its iconic sites. PARIS 2024

The Olympic Torch Relay continued to Apt and in particular the Riaille lake, before heading to the historical centre of L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, nicknamed the Venice of the Comtat Venaissin area, where it visited the Bassin de Bouïgas weir.

After returning to mainland France from the Overseas Territories, the Torch continued to explore the Provence region and in particular the Vaucluse. The day was marked by striking landscapes, from Rustrel to Avignon via Orange. More than 120 torchbearers carried the Torch, including 24 cyclists who made up the collective relay on the famous Mont Ventoux, and legendary handball player Michaël Guigou who lit the celebration cauldron. 

With its lavender fields, garrigue heathland and ochre cliffs, the Vaucluse is full of stunning natural sites such as Rustrel, where the Olympic Torch was lit earlier in the day. The landscapes here are stunning and impressive, in the heart of Provence's own 'Colorado', with former open-cast ochre quarries that look like canyons. 

The Torch Relay then moved on to Apt, and in particular the Riaille Lake, before reaching the historic centre of L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, nicknamed the Venice of the Comtat Venaissin area, where it visited the Bassin de Bouïgas weir. 

This was followed by a spectacular bike climb from the summit of Mont Ventoux, one of the most legendary mountain passes in Provence at 1909m. The Relay then moved on to Orange, passing by the famous Roman Theatre, where an original project was organised: the Cultural Olympics, in which a children's choir from the Pop the Opera group accompanied the Olympic torch with a song. 

The Torch crossed the Ouvèze River in Sorgues on the Himalayan-style sky bridge. In Avignon, it travelled along the ramparts and passed in fron of the Place de l'Horloge before heading to the Palais des Papes in Avignon, the Notre-Dame-des-Doms Cathedral and the Pont d'Avignon Bridge. The festive atmosphere continued, as it was organised an unforgettable evening in the Allées de l'Oulle, with local DJ Meloko and renowned DJ Bob Sinclar. 

The crowd cheered on many famous athletes who carried the Torch, including renowned former athletes Miguel Martinez, a double Olympic mountain bike medallist at the 1996 and 2000 Games, Jérémie Azou, a rowing gold medallist at the 1996 and 2016 Olympic Games, and Jean-Claude Amoureux, an athlete who ran the 4x100m relay in Melbourne in 1976. Mathieu Blanchard, one of France's leading trail runners, was also present. 

At the end of the day, legendary handball player Michael Guigou, a three-time Olympic champion, lit the cauldron at the Avignon venue. There was another very familiar face among the torchbearers: Alexis Michalik, the actor, playwright and director who has won 5 Molière Theatre Awards, has also been an ambassador for the Paris 2024 Olympic Torch Relay from the very beginning. 

He was part of the crew of the Ocean Relay and took part in the incredible adventure between Brest and Guadeloupe on board the Maxi Banque Populaire XI trimaran. Graphic artist, writer and videographer Patric Baud, famous for his YouTube channel, was also on the streets of the Vaucluse. 

The Olympic Torch, at the heart of the Provence 'Colorado'. PARIS 2024
The Olympic Torch, at the heart of the Provence 'Colorado'. PARIS 2024

Members of the public with wonderful stories also played their part today. One of them was Estelle Gonzalez: although she has Down's syndrome, she overcomes all the prejudices and fulfils her potential every day by taking part in gymnastics, her favourite activity, as well as swimming and tennis. 

Danièle Michel, a former nurse who volunteers at the 'Restos du cœur', Adrien Renaudin-Chaptal, a basketball player who raises awareness of bone marrow and spinal cord diseases, and Agnès Berthonnier, who has climbed the Mont Ventoux in trail running and cycling, are all examples of members of the public whose inspiring stories have been featured in the Olympic Torch Relay. 

The Mont Ventoux was one of the stars of the day. A high-speed collective relay dedicated to cycling took place on the slopes of this remarkable natural site. It was the second relay organised by the French Cycling Federation. The 24 torchbearers demonstrated the diversity of the two-wheeled discipline. 

Spectators were also able to admire BMX specialists such as Anne-Caroline Chausson, captain of the relay and former Beijing 2008 medallist. She was joined by 23 other members of the club, including BMX riders Mathilde Doudoux and Laurent Vendittelli, cyclo-cross rider Victoire Plauche and Jean-Antonio Dias, who is involved in organising races on Mont Ventoux.