Marseille is preparing to welcome the Olympic flame, and local authorities intend to make it a marker of Paris 2024. City, region, metropolis and department have spared no expense for the festivities on May 8 and 9: 1 .8 million euros were invested. Neither do the sponsors, Coca-Cola in the lead. “We are going to make sure that Marseille shines, and we are going to make popular fervor ring,” says Samia Ghali, third deputy to the various left-wing mayor, Benoît Payan.

The Belem, with the Olympic flame on board, will arrive from Athens on May 8 in Marseille harbor. It will be escorted by nearly 1,000 boats (old rigs, sailboats, motorboats) which will parade at sea. The entry of the three-masted ship into the Old Port will be musically accompanied by the Marseille Philharmonic Orchestra, and the images will be broadcast on large screens placed on the cove – pedestrianized for the occasion – and at the Palais du Pharo.

To keep the public waiting, sporting and cultural events are planned all day long on the quays. A dance show will be given by the company (La)Horde on the island of If. A work by a visual artist will adorn the castle’s lighthouse.

150,000 people expected

The torch bearer will then disembark on a floating platform reproducing an athletics track and opening onto a huge stage. It is on this plateau placed on the water that the concert organized by Coca-Cola will take place. Three hours of music for which the brand is keeping the names of the artists secret, but promises to highlight local figures, notably the rapper Soprano. A fireworks display will end the day. Some 150,000 people are expected by the police headquarters.

On May 9, the bearers of the flame will stroll through the sixteen districts of Marseille, with visits to the symbolic places of the city: starting from Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde, it will stop in particular at the Museum of Civilizations of Europe and the Mediterranean (Mucem), with the letters “Marseille” in the northern districts, at the town hall, and ending at the Stade-Vélodrome. It is the rapper Soprano who will then carry the torch to the roof of the stadium.

An aerial parade will follow the procession. A torchlight descent will close the evening. “It’s going to be spectacular. A real popular moment where everyone will participate,” predicts Samia Ghali. To secure the Old Port and the path of the flame, 5,000 members of the police will be mobilized over two days.