Decathlon world record holder Kevin Mayer lit the cauldron in Montpellier. PARIS 2024

Still on the Mediterranean coast, the Paris 2024 Olympic Torch visited a new region on Monday. With no clouds in the sky, the torch illuminated the main towns of Millau, Sète and Montpellier, all of which are located in the southern part of the Occitania region. 

French athlete Kevin Mayer, the decathlon world record holder, lit the cauldron on the Esplanade de l'Europe in Montpellier, closing a stage where sport, nature and culture set the tone for the relay.

Monday began with a breathtaking view from dizzying heights as the Olympic Torch set off from the Millau Viaduct at 8am. This majestic cable-stayed bridge, almost 340 metres high, offers a great panorama of the Tarn Valley. Taïg Khris, the three-time world champion in vert skating, carried the torch down the viaduct. It then passed through the centre of Millau before entering the heart of the Grandes Causses Regional Natural Park. 

The Olympic torch then made its way to the coast at Sète, the "unique island", a fishing port with a strong Mediterranean flavour that has inspired many artists. The torch then headed uphill again to enjoy the views from the top of Mont Saint-Clair, which overlooks the Etang de Thau.

From Balaruc-les-Bains, the torch was taken to the centre of Sète and sailed through the city canal on board a Provençal water jousting boat. Its tour of Sète ended opposite the Théâtre de la Mer, an old fortress overlooking the sea. Then it was on to Montpellier, the last stop on the route.

One of the most emotional moments of the fifth day of the Torch Relay. PARIS 2024
One of the most emotional moments of the fifth day of the Torch Relay. PARIS 2024

The Olympic torch was greeted by a host of attractions in the city centre and along the relay route. It passed through Juvignac, a municipality in the Greater Montpellier area, before entering the leafy Promenade du Peyrou, not far from Place de la Comédie. Several concerts and dance performances took place in this symbolic place of the "City of Clapas". 

Olympic and Paralympic sports took centre stage with a wide range of demonstrations and presentations. First up was Les Cévennes district, followed by Les Arceaux, where the public could discover wheelchair basketball and boccia, two iconic Paralympic sports that could do with a bit more public recognition. 

The city centre of Montpellier hosted a team relay of 24 torchbearers organised by the Weightlifting Federation to raise the profile of this Olympic discipline. Place de l'Europe was the venue for the celebrations, with attractions for the crowds who turned out in force to welcome the Olympic torch. 

The atmosphere reached fever pitch as the last relay runner approached at 19:20. Kévin Mayer, a two-time world decathlon champion and Rio silver medallist who is training hard for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, had the honour of completing the final leg. Based in Montpellier, where he studied and still trains, the lighting of the cauldron was a symbolic and emotional moment for him. 

Other celebrities who carried the Torch included singer Ycare, Olympic volleyball gold medallist Benjamin Toniutti and journalist Hervé Mathoux. Comedian Artus was also on hand for a segment, sharing the screen with Sofian after his film Un p'tit truc en plus, which had a rock-solid opening in cinemas. He is also a influencer with more than 500,000 followers and uses his platform to raise awareness of his rare disease, ataxia-telangiectasia. 

They were flanked by anonymous warriors, including a number of female torchbearers, such us Delphine Le Sausse, a former member of the French national alpine skiing team who lost the use of part of her legs in an accident and became a top para-water skier; Soune Serre, who works in an orphanage in Guinea; Josiane Itier, a volunteer firefighter for over four decades; and Geneviève Petey, a tireless volunteer in her savate club. 

Tomorrow, the Olympic torch will leave mainland France for Corsica. It will be another breathtaking stage, taking the torch from L'Île-Rousse to Corte and from Ajaccio to Bastia, showcasing the wonders of the Isle of Beauty.