Route design and details
The route focused on various sports centres in France, and the relay passed through the Jura and Vosges mountains, the Massif Central, the Pyrenees and the Alps, with a stop at Chamonix, host of the first ever Olympic Winter Games.
Lit in Olympia, the flame is taken to Mount Olympus, where a ceremony is held in its honour. It then reaches Athens and is flown to Paris. On 19 December 1967, it was Jean Vuarnet, a gold medallist at the Olympic Winter Games in Squaw Valley, who received the flame when it arrived at Paris-Orly airport. The first torchbearer in France was Alain Mimoun, a gold medal-winning distance runner at the 1956 Games in Melbourne and three-time Olympic silver medallist (London 1948 and Helsinki 1952).
At the Opening Ceremony, the organisers added a unique final touch to the relay by placing a microphone on the chest of the last runner, Alain Calmat. His heartbeat could be heard throughout the stadium as he climbed the steps towards the Olympic cauldron.
IOCStart date: 16 December 1967, Olympia (Greece)
End date: 6 February 1968, Opening Stadium, Grenoble (France)
First torchbearer: Tassos Bahouros
Last torchbearer: Alain Calmat, Olympic participant in figure skating (1956, 1960, 1964), silver medallist in Innsbruck 1964.
Number of torchbearers: ~5,000 in France
Recruitment of torchbearers: The first and last torchbearers were chosen by the Organising Committee’s Sports Director, Colonel Marceau Crespin, and the Director General, Dr. Robert Héraut.
Distance: 7,222 km in France
Around 3,500 km were covered on foot; 1,600 on skis; 300 on horseback, bicycle or rowing boat; and 1,900 using mechanical means of transport (plane, helicopter, escort ship or vehicle).
Countries visited: Greece, France
Colour: Red and bronze
Length: 70 cm
Composition: Textile and bronze alloy
Fuel: Propane gas. Each canister contained 280 grams, giving a burning time of more than two hours.
Designer / Manufacturer: - / Société technique d’équipements et de fournitures industrielles
Did you know?
The Organising Committee bought five miner’s lamps, recognised as being suitable for use in mines where there was fire damp, to hold the flame during its transport by air. Fifteen lamps were also lent by the La Mure Colliery. The five lamps belonging to the Organising Committee featured an engraving of the Olympic rings and the inscription Grenoble 1968.
Did you know?
- The Olympic cauldron was impressive, with a diameter of four metres and weighing 550 kg. Its three-metre wide dish had 70 burners. A helicopter transported and lifted it into place at the top of the tower at the Opening Stadium. The original plan was to extinguish the flame after the Opening Ceremony, but the organisers changed their minds when they realised that the flame could be seen from far away and encouraged the public to visit throughout the Games.
- The competition venues had their own, smaller cauldrons, 1.20m tall and 80cm in diameter, with a dish containing eight burners fed with propane by two sets of four bottles hidden in the base.
- For the Closing Ceremony, the flame from the Opening Stadium was transferred to the Ice Stadium in a chimney-shaped cauldron one metre in diameter and two metres tall.