Torch Relay Stage 17:  A bucolic journey in the heart of France. PARIS 2024

After a day's rest, the Olympic Torch stopped off in the Indre département on Monday. With its picturesque villages, castles and mansions, fields of grain and many hiking trails, it is also a land of sport and the perfect place to get away from it all.

The Indre is an area shaped by nature, from the Brenne Regional Natural Park to the romantic countryside of Le Boischaut and the Champagne Berrichonne. It is a popular tourist destination for those seeking peace, relaxation and tranquillity in a lush green setting. The Olympic Torch Relay followed in their footsteps as it discovered the department. 

The route started in Le Blanc, a municipality crossed by the River Creuse, then took in the Himalayan-style footbridge between Cuzion and Baraize, before passing through Buzançais (the 'town of seven bridges'). The day continued with an excursion to Issoudun with its historic town centre and the 13th century white tower of the Tour Blanche, as well as the Château de Valençay. 

The day continued in Châteauroux, a medieval town in the province of Berry. The torch passed by the Abbey of Déols and the convoy was able to catch a glimpse of Château Raoul, a seigniorial residence that was once the centre of power in the Lower Berry area. 

The department is a sporting area thanks to football (with the club La Berrichone de Châteauroux club), basketball, athletics, cycling (host of the Tour de France) and other disciplines such as the World Aerobatics Championships, which recently took place there. 

The celebration venue took place on the 7.5-hectare multidisciplinary sports complex, the Plaine Départementale des Sports, which is much appreciated by local clubs and schools. As always, the sponsors of the Olympic Torch Relay (Coca-Cola, Banque Populaire and Caisse d'Epargne), thrilled the crowds with musical entertainment and dance choreographies. 

Châteauroux is preparing to host the shooting events of the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games. It was a powerful and unifying moment that captured everyone's attention when a collective relay dedicated to shooting took place on Place de la République. 

Some of the participants in the Olympic torch team relay on Monday. PARIS 2024
Some of the participants in the Olympic torch team relay on Monday. PARIS 2024

This relay was led by Sylvie Lanson, a leading local figure in shooting. She was joined by 23 other shooting enthusiasts who took turns to carry the torch, including international shooter Agathe Girard, rising young stars Emma Magdelaine and Estelle Fauchon, and Jérôme Perrochon, a member of the French para-shooting pistol team. 

They were accompanied by around 100 torchbearers who have lit up the area. The first of them this morning was a dedicated young farmer, 35-year-old Rémi Fontaine. Many former sports stars also took part: athlete Viviane Dorsile, a 400m and 800m specialist who was French and European champion several times at the end of the 1990s, footballer Dominique Bijotat, who won the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics with the French football team, or basketballer Frédéric Weis, who won a silver medal at the 2000 Sydney Games. 

Others, such as para-sport table tennis player Claude Chédeau, who won a silver medal in the team event at the 1992 Barcelona Paralympic Games. They rubbed shoulders with athletes who are currently making a name for themselves, such as two-time super featherweight boxing champion Victoire Piteau and para-triathlete Manon Genest, the 2016 world champion.

Local sports personalities were also on hand, including Romaric Boch, former fitness coach at La Berrichonne de Châteauroux FC. The last torchbearer of the day had the honour of lighting the celebration cauldron: Élodie Vachet. Currently the coach of the French Paralympic table tennis team, she also trains at the Déols table tennis club and symbolises the vitality of sport in the region.