While the Olympic flame will cross France between May 8 and July 26, residents of these departments will not see it. Here’s why.

The journey of the Olympic flame to Paris on July 26 began with the lighting of the flame at the historic site of Olympia, Greece, on April 17. She will arrive on French soil on May 8 in Marseille, aboard the legendary sailboat Belém. Then the Olympic flame will begin a relay throughout France, carried in turn by around 10,000 selected people. Personalities like Denis Brogniart or the chef Anne-Sophie Pic, athletes of course, but above all many anonymous people who simply applied on the Paris 2024 club website.

But to have the chance to see the Olympic flame pass through their department, communities had to pay a certain amount of money. Each department wanting to see the Olympic relay pass through its territory paid 150,000 euros. A significant sum for certain departments, which ultimately refused to allow the flame to pass. For the vice-president of the Indre-et-Loire department Sylvie Giner, it is impossible to justify this expense to residents.

“I fell out of my chair!”, she explains on France Bleu. The amount is in fact fixed whatever the department, while the budgets are different. “I am thinking of the difference in resources that may exist between Hauts-de-Seine and Creuse,” also explains the vice-president of Haute-Vienne, still on France Bleu. The price per capita varies from nine cents to 2.35 euros depending on the number of inhabitants. It is therefore mainly rural and sparsely populated departments which refused to allow the flame to pass. For the organizing committee, however, the price is not prohibitive.

“We are not at all in the logic of making money because the costs generated by the torch relay over three months are much greater than the contribution requested from the departments”, defends Tony Estanguet in the face of criticism from certain departments in comments relayed by L’Equipe. “About a quarter of the cost is borne by the Departments. The other three quarters are borne by the Organizing Committee.”

In total, 37 departments refused to allow the Olympic flame to pass through their territory. However, certain municipalities in these departments have decided to take charge of passing the flame. Thus, the city of Bordeaux will see the relay on May 23, even though the Gironde department has refused to cover the cost. Ditto in La Baule, which will see the flame pass on June 5.