Paris gears up for the greatest show on earth

Olympic torch relay through Paris packed with events and highlights

By Jean-Baptiste Gurliat

In less than a week before the opening ceremony of the XXXIII Summer Olympics, branded as Paris 2024, the passage of the Olympic flame through Paris on 14 and 15 July will mark the start of the celebrations. Its route will be packed with events and highlights.

After crossing an ocean, climbing mountains and meeting countless extraordinary people, the world’s most famous torch will finally arrive in Paris. The journey begins on 14 July, a significant date as it coincides with Bastille Day, from the iconic Champs-Élysées roundabout.

From the very first steps, the celebration will be a constant companion to the flame. On the steps of the Petit Palais, the group D.I.V.A., four opera singers accompanied by a string quartet, will perform famous French operas in a festive and unconventional way.

The torch will then head towards the city center, winding its way through the Saint-Germain-des-Prés district (6th arrondissement) to the sound of its famous jazz, with singer and guitarist Thomas Curbillon setting the rhythm. It will stop at the Panthéon (5th arrondissement), where choreographer Yoann Bourgeois will present a ‘tailor-made performance around a moving circular stage’. Still in the 5th arrondissement, the torch will stop at the Institute of the Arab World, where the artist Zepha will lead a collaborative artwork based on the meeting of alphabets, before visiting the healing Notre-Dame Cathedral.

The flame will then cross the Marais district, where it will be greeted by a giant drag bingo hosted by Mademoiselle Kiss. It will then head to the Place de la Bastille for an open-air dance class organized by the Paris Opera for 200 amateur participants. The day will end at 11pm at the Hôtel de Ville with a night vigil open to the public.

The following morning, the flame will leave the Porte de la Chapelle arena, the only venue built within the city limits for the Games. The square, named Alice Milliat in honor of the pioneering sportswoman, will host an exhibition of portraits of female athletes by Clémence Gouy.The journey then leads to the iconic Montmartre, where around forty dancers will perform ‘Murmurations’, a work by choreographer Sadeck Berrabah, on the steps of the Sacré-Cœur. A stop at the Moulin Rouge would not be complete without a French cancan.

Later in the day, the flame will take part in a village festival in Butte-aux-Cailles, followed by a performance of ‘Danse Vertikale’ at the open-air Museum of Street Art (13th arrondissement), and then a parade of Asian, Brazilian and Malian percussion and dance in Belleville. The route will end with a big concert on the Place de la République.

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