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Olympic Flame arrives in France for torch relay lead up to Paris Games

The Olympic Flame arrived in Marseille on Wednesday evening to begin the French portion of the Olympic torch relay leading up to the Opening Ceremony of the Paris Games on July 26.

French swimmer Florent Manaudou, a three-time Olympic medalist in the 50m freestyle, was the first torchbearer in France.

The flame arrived at the Old Port of Marseille aboard the Belem, a three-masted ship “reminiscent of a true Homeric epic,” according to Paris 2024.

The French national anthem, La Marseillaise, echoed from the embankment. Planes from a French Air force flyover drew the five Olympic rings and then the red-blue-white colors of the nation’s flag.

Tens of thousands cheered the arrival at the cordoned-off stage area on the shore as thousands of others waved from balconies and windows overlooking the festivities.

The torch relay began per tradition in the Ancient Olympic site of Olympia on April 16 and spent 11 days in Greece, including visiting Athens and the first modern Olympic Stadium from 1896.

It then crossed the Mediterranean Sea to reach France.

In France, the flame will visit more than 400 cities and towns across 64 territories. It will go by D-Day beaches, Mont Saint-Michel, the Palace of Versailles, Cannes, Roland Garros and more famous vineyards and museums.

The French leg also includes a June 8-17 portion visiting overseas territories French Guiana, Reunion, French Polynesia, Guadeloupe and Martinique.

The 10,000 individual torchbearers will run about 200 meters each, plus 3,000 torchbearers participating in team relays.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.