The Olympic Flame is travelling to France on beautiful historic ship

The Olympic flame set sail from Athens on Saturday on its voyage to France on board the Belem – a historic 19th-century three masted ship.

The 127-year-old ship set sail on Saturday with ‘the most important passenger it has ever carried’

The beautiful historic ship is sailing the Olympic Flame to France in a 12-day, 2,000 km journey that that began from Athens, Greece (Saturday, April 27).

The Belem ship is sailing towards Marseille, where it will dock at the Vieux Port on May 8. 

The Olympic Flame was officially conferred to France on Saturday at the Athens Panathenaic Stadium. 

It spent one night at the French Embassy before beginning its Mediterranean journey for the Paris Olympics and Paralympics. 

The flame will then travel across France (including the overseas territories), before arriving at the Opening Ceremony on July 26. You can see the route it will take around France

The three-mast ship is 127 years old, and is the last great French merchant ship still sailing. Its largest mast reaches 34 metres tall when on the water, and the ship itself is 58 metres long. It has 22 sails with a total surface area of 1,200m2, and two 575 horsepower diesel engines.

Originally used as a merchant ship from 1896 to 1914, it was a luxury British yacht from 1914 to 1951, before becoming used in the Italian naval cadet school until 1979. It then returned to France.

Now considered to be a historic monument, it is used in large, national celebrations, including notably at the Diamond Jubilee of the late Queen Elizabeth II in 2012.

Ms de Larauze said that the chance to use the Belem for such a journey was “a reward for work carried out over more than ten years” at the head of the foundation. “It’s our greatest achievement, a source of pride,” she said. “It’s France’s recognition of the work we have done to preserve this historic monument.”

The flame is “the most important passenger we have ever carried,” she said.

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