Torch Relay Stage 50: Fabulous fifty in Eure. PARIS 2024

Normandy provided the backdrop for another kaleidoscopic experience as the 50th stage of the Olympic Torch Relay took it to the Eure department, shining a light on its emerald landscapes, bucolic villages and rich heritage.

The heart of Normandy is the latest region to be bathed in the warm glow on Saturday, with a very festive atmosphere on the roadsides. The relay is an opportunity to (re)discover the treasures that make France so special, as the Eure showed that Claude Monet would have taken the time to admire. 

For example, the Olympic Torch passed through many villages famous far beyond the borders of the department, as well as its green countryside and landscapes, which make it an ideal destination for walks or a break from everyday life. 

It set off from Pont-Audemer, the "Little Venice", with its distinctive old town on the banks of the Risle, the river that hosted a stage of the relay. It continued to the Vexin Normand in Gisors, passing by the castle. The unique heritage of Val-de-Reuil and its Monument of Remembrance and Peace were also on display, followed by the Abbey Church of Notre-Dame de Bernay, which has been awarded the title of "City of Art and History".

The Torch moved on to Évreux, lighting up its vibrant town centre, and then to Verneuil d'Avre et d'Iton, famous for its magnificent private mansions and the church of Saint Lawrence. The Olympic Torch travelled to Vernon, where it lit up the Old Mill and the Château des Tourelles, a medieval fortress dating from 1196 and now a listed building. It also explored the medieval streets of the town centre, before arriving at the Place de la République.

Pont-Audemer, known as the
Pont-Audemer, known as the "Little Venice", also enjoyed the party of the Olympic Torch Relay. PARIS 2024 

In Pont-Audemer, the Festival des Mascarets took place, while in Gisors, the Olympic Village was brought to life by local organisations. Val-de-Reuil hosted an exhibition of Olympic Torches and a live music band. A charity fair was held in Bernay, and Évreux came alive with musical performances. Verneuil d'Avre et d'Iton and Vernon hosted sports demonstrations that attracted an enthusiastic young crowd. 

The athletics Team Relay took place at the Jesse Owens Stadium in Val-de-Reuil after a parade of national flags. It was captained by Just Kwaou-Mathey, an international hurdles medallist and the ambassador for the department. All 24 clubs in Eure were represented, highlighting the diversity of sporting activities in the department. Among the participants was Meba-Mickaël Zeze, twice European silver medallist in the 4x100m relay (2016 and 2022). 

Over 100 participants carried the Torch for the official 200 metres under the watchful eyes of the crowd. In a deeply moving and symbolic moment, amateur boxing champion Adriani Vastine passed the torch to his father, Alain Vastine, a key figure in local boxing. Emotions ran high as they completed the leg to the Alexis Vastine Sports Park, named in memory of the 2008 Beijing bronze medallist who tragically passed away in 2015. 

The crowd in Vernon was particularly enthusiastic. PARIS 2024
The crowd in Vernon was particularly enthusiastic. PARIS 2024

The relay featured a parade of athletes, including Naman Keita, the 2004 Athens 400m hurdles bronze medallist, Nicolas Pfeiffer, the 2022 Normandy boccia champion, and Tess Gogot, a sports dance enthusiast. Astrid Guyart had the honour of lighting the cauldron in Vernon. An excellent foil fencer, she won a team silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics. 

Birane Ba, a member of the Comédie-Française and star of Jeanne Herry's film All Your Faces, also carried the Torch in Vernon. The crowd also cheered on personalities who embody the Olympic spirit, such as Constance Le Meur, a teacher who introduces her pupils to Para-sport, Messaouda Marguier, who was instrumental in setting up a health house project, and Véronique Delaune, who has run the Aqua Baby Club in Évreux for more than 35 years 

The Torch was carried by personalities such as Alexandra Fourcaud, a hip-hop instructor for 15 years, and Pauline Gassama, who spearheaded the Terre de Jeux initiative in the département. There was also Alexis Ridel, a volunteer at the local athletics club who coaches young athletes, and Bernard Virondeau, who also works every day to instil sporting values in young people.