Olympic flame sails into Marseille port, marking milestone on path to Paris Games

Tens of thousands of people gathered on Wednesday in the southern French city of Marseille to welcome the Olympic torch and mark another milestone in the lead-up to the Summer Games in Paris.

A majestic three-mast ship carried the Olympic flame into Marseille's famed Old Port at sunset as the French national anthem, La Marseillaise, echoed from the embankment.

An Air Force fly-over marked the ship's arrival, with planes drawing the five Olympic rings and then the red-blue-white colours of the French flag.

Tens of thousands cheered the arrival at the cordoned-off stage area on the shore, while thousands of others waved from balconies and windows overlooking the festivities.

Marseille-born rapper Jul lit the Olympic cauldron after the torch was brought to land by Florent Manaudou, France's 2012 Olympic men's 50 metres freestyle swimming champion.

The flame's transfer onshore marks the start of a 12,000-kilometre (7,500-mile) torch relay across France and its far-flung overseas territories.

Arriving in Marseille, President Emmanuel Macron met with the French Olympic athletes who have sailed on the Belem, the 19th-century ship carrying the torch.

“With the arrival of the flame, the country enters the Games,” Macron said at Olympic Marina in Marseille, a port city founded by Greek merchants.

The Olympic torch was lit in Greece last month before it was officially handed to France and carried on board the Belem, spending 12 days at sea.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP)

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