Stage 19 – Torch Relay – The Olympic torch continues to illuminate the Games in Mayenne


Sport, culture, wide open spaces and new technologies contribute to making Mayenne a place worth living in.

Mayenne, with its fertile agricultural lands, is synonymous with authenticity, know-how and the joy of discovery. Local culinary and artisanal products reflect the character and innovative strength of the department and testify to its dynamism. Laval has been a leader in the development of virtual and augmented reality technologies for nearly two decades, giving the city international recognition, notably thanks to the Laval Virtual trade fair.

The Mayenne department also excels in sport. With more than 95,000 members in 800 clubs, it is one of the most sporty departments in France. This popularity is not accidental: local authorities invest in quality sports facilities to encourage participation in sport for all. With the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris in mind, the Mayenne department is fully committed to this major competition. 94 municipalities have thus been awarded the “Land of the 2024 Games” label, 49 schools and educational establishments have been awarded the “Generation 2024” label and 8 preparation centers for the 2024 Olympic Games are preparing to receive foreign delegations. In addition to being a land where football, cycling or horse riding are popular, the Mayenne department is also distinguished by its commitment to promoting sport in all its forms.

The Olympic torch explores some of the region’s most beautiful landscapes

The route revealed the green beauty of this area. From rolling hills to vast plains, this nineteenth stage was an invitation to travel. The Olympic torch began its journey at the “Pendu” (hanging man) lock in Château-Gontier-sur-Mayenne and offered a walk along the river bank through narrow cobbled streets to the Clarisse Agbégnénou Dojo, recently inaugurated in the presence of the champion and patron of the establishment. The Robert Tatin Museum, built over 50 years ago in Cossé-le-Vivien, was the next stop for the Olympic torch. Decorated with sculptures, paintings, gardens and buildings, this place testifies to Robert Tatin's travels and artistic influences. At midday, the Olympic torch continued its journey to Sainte-Suzanne-et-Chammes, a major tourist attraction in Mayenne, where it passed near the 11th-century castle and the old fortified village. This medieval town is one of the few in France to have withstood William the Conqueror. The relay then continued along a path behind the church of Chailland to the Rocher de la Vierge rocky outcrop that overlooks the commune, and then into the town centre. In the afternoon, the Olympic torch strolled through Mayenne, crossing the river of the same name to visit the castle grounds, and ending this section in front of the Notre-Dame-des-Miracles basilica, a building with parts dating from the 12th, 16th and 19th centuries. Le Pré-en-Pail-Saint-Samson also received a place of honour, as the Olympic torch set off from the summit of Mont-des-Avaloirs, the highest point of the Armorican Hills. After a day of discovery, the Olympic torch ended the day in Laval. The visit began at the Manuela Montebrun stadium with a collective athletics relay race, which ended at the headquarters of the Mayenne Olympic and Sports Committee. The Olympic torch then passed by the Saint Vénérand church, one of the most beautiful Renaissance churches in the city, before crossing the Mayenne river again via the Pont Aristide Briand bridge.

A highlight for the historic discipline of the Olympic Games with the athletics relay

The collective relay race, organized by the French Athletics Federation, started at the Manuela Montebrun stadium, an emblematic place because it is dedicated to the only Olympic medalist from Mayenne. The event paid tribute to all the participants in this discipline and the volunteers, highlighting the collective dimension of sport. Accompanied by Manuela Montebrun, captain of this relay race, 23 people represented the diversity of athletics with disciplines such as pole vault, long jump, triple jump and hurdles. Among the participants was Manon Triguel, a former cross-country competitor and now a referee, who shared her experience with us. She regularly presides over jumping competitions, such as the French Masters Championship in Laval. Hugo Sisternes, an athletics enthusiast since meeting Kevin Mayer in 2018, also took part in the relay race. Thanks to his perseverance, Hugo became world champion in Ikosathlon in 2021. Bernard Rolland, a volunteer who is heavily involved in athletics in his region, was also present, along with dedicated coaches such as Lauriane Berton and Yves Mathieu, who has been a member of the Stade Lavallois club for over twenty years. André Giraud, the president of the French Athletics Federation, had the honour of carrying the Olympic torch in an individual relay race in Cossé-le-Viven earlier in the day.

This joint relay race was an opportunity to put a spotlight on a discipline with over 300,000 club members. Often considered the foundation of all sports, athletics is characterized by its simplicity and respect.

One hundred torchbearers take part in the relay race and illuminate the Mayenne

On Wednesday May 29, Guy Morvan, a former elite athlete, had the honor of being the first to carry the Olympic torch in Château-Gontier and accompany it on a morning rowing trip down the river. A few minutes later, it was Théo Moreau's turn. A sportsman since childhood, Théo's main focus is training for Ironman events. In addition to his exploits, he participated in the 2022 Deaflympics in Brazil and won the cycling time trial title. Other sports enthusiasts left their mark on the day. Adrien Mathis, a sports fan, took over the relay in the middle of the day in Sainte-Suzanne-et-Chammes. His professional career has taken him to numerous prestigious events, including the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang and the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Katia Martinet, a physical education teacher for 22 years, carried the Olympic torch across the Aristide Briand Bridge in Laval. In her educational projects, she is inspired by the Olympic Games and their values ​​and has made them her favourite subject.

Former top athletes who have brought local and international fame to the region also took part in this popular festival. For example, Hortense Vanessa Mballa Atangana, a sportswoman from Cameroon who now works as a coach at the Judo Club of Château-Gontier and Cossé le Vivien and passes on her passion to young judoka, or Jacky Durand, a great French cycling champion who has taken part in the Tour de France no less than ten times!

François Pervis, a native of Château-Gontier-sur-Mayenne, also took part in the day's relay. He has been involved in every edition of the Olympic Games from Athens to Rio and was also involved in para-cycling at the Tokyo Games. François, the only Frenchman to win Olympic and Paralympic medals, rounded off an emotional day by lighting the celebratory cauldron at the Espace Mayenne centre.

Tomorrow, the Olympic torch will travel to Calvados, a region of green fields, coastlines much loved by the Impressionists and a rich history. The day will begin at the Omaha Beach memorial. The Olympic torch will then visit Lisieux before travelling between Cabourg and its beaches. It will also stop in Dives-sur-Mer, Houlgate, Honfleur, Bayeux and Falaise before ending the day in Caen.

Check out 10 torchbearer profiles sorted by city:

© Paris 2024 / Laurent Vu / SIPA PRESS

The complete program of the stage can be found at

Festival program:
Open to the public from 3.30 p.m. to 7.45 p.m.
Free entry with access control
3.30 p.m.: Opening to the public
4:00 p.m.-5:30 p.m.: joint events on the sports promenade
5.45-6.50 p.m.: Partner events on the sports promenade
19.20-19.30: Arrival of the last torchbearer

Here you can find all photos and videos from theyes on the Content Library of Paris 2024.
Image credits are included in the image metadata.
Source of the footage package: France Télévisions – Paris 2024 / Source: IOC