Olympic torch sets off on 78-day journey across France

The Olympic torch relay began in Marseille on Thursday with football legend Basile Boli taking the flame in front of the iconic basilica of Notre-Dame de la Garde, a day after it made a spectacular entrance by sea.

The former French international, who scored the only goal in Marseille's victory over AC Milan in the 1993 European Champion Clubs' Cup final, set off at 8:20am just beneath the famous golden statue of the "Good Mother", which watches over France's second-largest city.

"It makes the heart beat and it's fantastic," said Boli.

"It's the Olympic flame, it's the symbol of sport, of living together, of everything we can hope for in the world."

There will be a strong football element to the first of 78 days of the torch relay with Ivory Coast great Didier Drogba also among the torch bearers in the southern port city on Thursday.

The torch will also visit the Stade Velodrome, home of Marseille's team which will host 10 matches during the men's and women's Olympic football competitions.

It is just the start of a 12,000-kilometre torch relay across France and its far-flung overseas territories before the opening ceremony in Paris on 26 July.

Security test

The flame arrived on French soil at Marseille on Wednesday on board the 19th-century sailing ship Belem in front of 150,000 spectators for a ceremony that posed a first major security test for organisers of the 2024 Paris Games.

Read more on RFI English

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