Olympic Torch Stage 33 (2): The wonders of Martinique. PARIS 2024

The Olympic Torch made a spectacular journey to the four corners of Martinique, known as the "Island of Flowers", revealing all that makes it so attractive, from the summit of the Montagne Pelée volcano to its lush landscapes and beaches.

Tony Estanguet, President of the Paris 2024 Organising Committee, was present, especially for the start of the day from the iconic site of Montagne Pelée. The people of Martinique enjoyed a collective relay organised by the French Federation of Basketball and the presence of many celebrities, including Jocelyne Béroard, singer of the band Kassav', who lit the cauldron at the end of the day. 

The previous evening, Martinique had already celebrated the arrival of the Olympic torch on board the Maxi Banque Populaire XI trimaran, sailed by Armel Le Cleac'h and Sébastien Josse, accompanied by Tony Estanguet, President of the Paris 2024 Organising Committee, and French Overseas athletes Laura Flessel, Coralie Balmy, Kéni Pipérol-Dampied and Thomas Debierre. 

Sunday's festivities ended with the lighting of the cauldron at Fort-de-France by Olympic swimming medallist Coralie Balmy. On Monday, the route was designed to highlight the extraordinary diversity of this natural paradise and the biodiversity that makes Martinique a World Biosphere Reserve, according to Paris 2024.

Swimming coach Bruno Giroux proudly holds the Olympic Torch. X' / BRUNO GIROUX
Swimming coach Bruno Giroux proudly holds the Olympic Torch. X' / BRUNO GIROUX

The Paris 2024 Olympic Torch was lit at dawn on the Montagne Pelée volcano, the island's most iconic natural landmark, under the watchful eye of Tony Estanguet. Throughout the day, it illuminated Martinique's impressive natural sites. The volcanoes, forests and peaks of the northern part of the island were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in September 2023. 

Several relays took place in the Passe de l'Écurie, a narrow sea passage where the locals like to sail yoles, a local type of boat. The Torch Relay also crossed the tie bar that links the island to the Sainte-Marie islet. The municipalities that contribute to the dynamism and fame of the island were given pride of place. The Torch visited Lamentin, Martinique's second largest town, the Pierre Samot aquatic centre and the Georges Gratiant stadium. 

It also visited Saint-Esprit - in particular the Georges Gabriel cultural centre - and Saint-Pierre, the "little Paris of the West Indies", destroyed by the eruption of the Montagne Pelée in 1902. In Le Diamant, the Torch lit the Cap 110, the memorial dedicated to slavery, before ending in Schoelcher and then Fort-de-France. 

The incredible beauty of Martinique. PARIS 2024
The incredible beauty of Martinique. PARIS 2024

Martinique's capital, the nerve centre of the island, was in the spotlight for the second night in a row. The route took in the Louis Achille sports complex, the Lycée Schoelcher high school, the Saint Louis Cathedral, the Aimé Césaire museum complex, the Schoelcher library and La Savane park. Then it was off to Le Malecon for the lighting of the cauldron. 

The first collective relay of the French Federation of Basketball (FFBB) took place in Saint-Esprit. The FFBB wanted to highlight  Martinique's commitment to producing a large number of great basketball players. The federation also wanted to promote the development of 3-a-side basketball as much as possible. The relay was led by young prodigy Lucas Duféal, who won the European Championship with the French U-20 team last year. 

Around 100 torchbearers took turns carrying the Olympic Torch. The people of Martinique gave a warm welcome to the last torchbearer, singer Jocelyne Béroard, best known as a member of the famous Creole zouk group "Kassav". She is the first woman in the West Indies to win a gold disc and was also awarded the Timi's trophy for best Afro-West Indian actress. 

The Olympic Torch arrived all over the island. 'X' / SERVICE D'INCENDIE ET DE SECOURS DE MARTINIQUE
The Olympic Torch arrived all over the island. 'X' / SERVICE D'INCENDIE ET DE SECOURS DE MARTINIQUE

Martinique's champions were also present, such as the athlete Ludvy Vaillant, who took part in two Olympic Games (Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020), and Jacques Sicot, who swam around Martinique in 11 days and holds the French record for swimming 67 kilometres. 

Members of the public with inspiring stories were also part of the celebrations. The crowd cheered on Midjina Gambie, the day's youngest torchbearer (13), who dreams of sporting success. She may have met Sandrine Gros-Désormeaux-Morjon, president of an association that fights endometriosis through running and walking. There was also Antonio Jair, a former member of the French army commandos who is involved in charity events. 

The special and magical Ocean Relay came to an end, marked by the massive presence of crowds along the roadsides and at the celebration venue. For the first time in history, the Olympic Torch Relay travelled to the French Overseas Territories to celebrate these paradises of champions. Now it is about to return to mainland France.