Torch Relay, Vendee (Source: Paris 2024, Laurent/Vu SIPA PRESS)
Puy du Fou Vendee
(Source: Facebook)
USPA NEWS - Today, on Tuesday, 4rd June, the Olympic torch arrived in Vendee. It is a pride place of Sailing, renowned for Vendee dedicated to the Olympic Torch Relay. With 250 km of coastline, this area with a strong identity is conducive to water sports, seaside tourism and fishing. It is also a land synonymous with sailing, as demonstrated by the collective relay organised by the French Federation of Sailing and the presence of skippers Isabelle Autissier and Armel Le Cleac’h, who were the day’s last torchbearers.
Having already surveyed the shores of the Mediterranean Sea and the English Channel, the Olympic Torch travelled along the Atlantic coast for the first time on its journey. The day began at the Passage du Gois, a 4.2-km road that floods at high tide and can only be crossed at low tide, which links the island of Noirmoutier to the Vendee.

This first highlight was followed by an inland discovery of the Vendée and its many paths, its wooded countryside, its hectares of natural spaces and its rich historical heritage. The Olympic Torch Relay’s visit of Fontenay-le-Comte was completed at Place François Viète before it travelled to Montaigu-Vendee, to take in the Collège Jules Ferry junior high school and the Maxime Bossis sports complex. Afterwards, just like 2.5 million visitors last year, it made a stop at one of France’s most popular theme parks: the Puy-du-Fou. Over a distance of almost three kilometers, the torchbearers took it in turns to carry the Olympic Torch through this park that recounts France’s history. The last two torchbearers on this segment received an incredible welcome at the heart of the park’s main arena.
Following such thrills, the Olympic Torch Relay then visited La Roche-sur-Yon, from its aquatic complex to Place Napoléon, before heading to the Pointe d’Arçay, a sandy spit that stretches out into the ocean and which is a haven for many species of birds. Finally, the day was rounded off in Les Sables-d’Olonne. The Olympic Torch began its route through the town at the La Rudeliere sports grounds, sailed alongside the beach on a sailboat, passed in front of the seashell museum and completed the day at the celebration venue on Place du Vendee Globe.
Vendee-Globe Sailing
Source: wikimedia
The Vendee and Les Sables-d’Olonne are closely linked to the most famous of ocean yacht racing events: the Vendee Globe. This world tour, which has forged so many legends, was founded in 1989 and takes place every four years, with the next edition set to start next November. It was only logical that the collective relay organised by the French Federation of Sailing should take place in Les Sables-d'Olonne. The relay was made up of 24 club members led by captain and two times Olympic medallist Charline Picon. Alongside her were Hugo Revil, an emerging young Olympic sailing star, Léane Mignon, who sails daily at Les Sables d’Olonne, Tom Mallet, one of para-sailing’s leading exponents, and Aloise Retornaz, a bronze medalist at the last Olympic Games.
A little later, the last two torchbearers were also accomplished and experienced sailors. The penultimate person to carry the Olympic Torch was none other than Isabelle Autissier. She was the first yachtswoman to complete a solo world tour and is also chairwoman of WWF-France, enthusiastically committed to defending the environment and spreading ecological knowledge. She is also a talented writer who produced inspiring novels from her expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctica. She passed on the Olympic Torch to Armel Le Cleac’h who had the great responsibility of lighting the celebration cauldron in front of the enthusiastic crowds. He won the Vendee Globe, often described as the “Everest of the seas”, in 2016-2017 and is still the record holder on the event (with a time of 74 days and 3 hours).
Armel Le Cleac’h will also be returning to the Olympic Torch Relay on 7th June. Setting off from Brest in the Finistère, he will cross the Atlantic Ocean with a legendary crew on the Maxi Banque Populaire XI yacht. He will take the Olympic Torch to Guadeloupe et Martinique as part of the unique ocean-going chapter of the Paris 2024 Olympic Torch Relay.
Paris 2024 logo
Source: Paris 2024
In total, 116 torchbearers took it in turns to carry the Olympic Torch throughout the day, including many renowned sportspeople. Danish racing driver Tom Kristensen, who has won the Le Mans 24 Hour race nine times, kicked off proceedings, soon followed by Emma Louineau, the world number 6 in trial mountain biking. Joining them were Ulrich Robeiri, a gold medallist in fencing at the 2008 Games, former international basketball player Françoise Amiaud and also famous MMA fighter Cyril Gane who carried the Olympic Torch through the town of his birth, La Roche-sur-Yon.
The Vendee is also a land where cycling is popular and it was naturally present with former rider and current sporting director Jean-René Bernaudeau, as well as the former chairman of the Tour de Vendée, Bernard Martineau. Among the other athletes present today to carry the Olympic Torch were, at Les Sables d’Olonne, para-triathlete Gwladys Lemoussus, who won a bronze medal at the Rio Games, as well as windsurfer Helene Noesmoen, who will take part in the 2024 Paris Games.
As is the case every day, the Olympic Torch Relay also gave pride of place to members of the general public. Marcel Retailleu, who witnessed the Olympic Torch Relay pass through his area in 1991, had the opportunity to carry it this time. Decathlete and sports teacher Ludovic Schaub also enjoyed this experience, as did Lucie Caumeil, a para-triathlete who dreams of taking part in the 2028 Paralympic Games. They all played their part in flying the flag high for the values of sport and the Olympics.

Such will be the case again on Wednesday, on a day between Saint-Sébastien-sur-Loire and La Baule-Escoublac for a stage in the Loire Atlantique department between the Loire River and the Atlantic Ocean, which promises just as many thrills and beautiful images."Source PAris 2024
Puy du Fou Vendee
Source: wikimedia
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