Former tennis player Jo-Wilfried Tsonga captained the collective relay. PARIS 2024

On Wednesday, the Olympic torch visited an area of great diversity and the collective relay was dedicated to tennis, led by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, but also including actress Virginie Ledoyen and former footballer Christian Karembeu. Roger-Yves Bost, equestrian Olympic champion at Rio 2016, lit the ceremonial cauldron.

The torch continued to explore the west of France, spending a final day in the Pays de la Loire region. The driving force behind this stage was a number of towns and an association of local authorities who came together to ensure that the entire population could enjoy this outstanding moment. 

The route started in Saint-Sébastien-sur-Loire, where the Olympic Torch was lit in front of the town hall, then crossed the Place de Verdun before arriving at the Stade René Massé. It then went to the Pays d'Ancenis Federation of Municipalities and was carried along the Loire at Ingrandes-le-Fresne-sur-Loire, before arriving at Vertou, the gateway to the Nantes vineyards. 

It also visited the 18th century mansion in Vallons-de-L'Erdre, crossed through Basse-Goulaine to the Stade Henri Michel stadium and discovered the Saint Mathurin chapel in Ligné on to the final step of the day: La Baule-Escoublac. 

Like tens of thousands of holidaymakers every year, the Torch took in the sea front and the magnificent panorama offered by Europe's largest bay, which stretches for 9 km. It was then taken to the Place des Salines for the closing ceremony. 

Former football star Christian Karembeu enjoyed the experience. PARIS 2024
Former football star Christian Karembeu enjoyed the experience. PARIS 2024

The collective relay was organised by the French Tennis Federation. With the French Open underway at Roland Garros, the sport has more than a million club members of all ages, as the captain of the relay demonstrated: Claudine Contoz is 81 years old and has been playing tennis since she was a child. She recently won the World Team Championships in the over-80 category. 

She was joined by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, a former international tennis player and former number five in the world, the two wheelchair players Gaëtan Menguy and Geoffray Jasiak, and the up-and-coming young players Lucas Marionneau and Simon Quelard, not forgetting the president Jean-Philippe Raoult and the treasurer Bernadette Rousseau of the La Baule Tennis Club. The Federation also organised activities and introductions to the sport. 

In addition to them, 141 torchbearers carried the Olympic torch, including other sportspersons, such as Christian Karembeu, winner of the 1998 FIFA World Cup, Philippe Revillon, a four-time medallist in para-swimming, and tennis player Edouard-Roger Vasselin. 

The final torchbearer was equestrian Roger-Yves Bost, one of France's top show jumpers and European champion in 2013, as well as Olympic champion at the Rio Games at the age of 50. He shared the day's top spot with actress Virginie Ledoyen, who also carried the Olympic torch in La Baule. 

Olympic equestrian champion Roger-Yves Bost lit the ceremonial cauldron. PARIS 2024
Olympic equestrian champion Roger-Yves Bost lit the ceremonial cauldron. PARIS 2024

There were also many members of the public with inspiring stories, such as Nabila Huruguen, who runs workshops to promote sport as a powerful tool for social inclusion and helps athletes in need of financial support, or Magali Houguet, a teacher with a passion for history, geography, moral and civic education, who co-wrote the 'Generation 2024' bid for her school. 

Other torchbearers are involved in sport on a daily basis, such as François Ance, who, after participating in Para swimming, became a boccia referee and a member of the Para Sports Committee of the Pays de la Loire region, or Vincent Dubois, a table tennis enthusiast for more than 40 years, who will take part in the Veterans' World Championships in Italy in 2024. 

Wednesday also saw the first marriage proposal of the Olympic torch relay: Raphaël Vriet, a torchbearer on the streets of Saint-Sebastien-sur-Loire, took the opportunity to ask his partner if she would carry the torch of their love with him forever. All the torchbearers waved the flag for the Olympic values and contributed to the enthusiasm generated by this event.