The Eiffel Tower vibrates to the start of the 22nd edition


While we were expecting a crowd to turn out at this departure village at the heart of Paris, never did we imagine the sheer numbers of spectators; as the official start approaches, the Trocadero Gardens are literally swamped.

At the request of the announcer specially delegated by Hexis, the Gazelles enter the starting blocks.
To the sound of horns, applause and cheers of encouragement, the start of the 22nd edition of the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc is officielly given by Chantal Jouano and Dominique Serra.

As they pass under the starting arch, each Gazelle experiences the excitement of the culmination of months of preparation. Nobody is left unmoved by the emotional departure of these women, as they set out in search of adventure. A rare and unique moment! Only the last vehicle, also unique in its own way, is unable to pass through the inflatable arch, which must be lifted by several Organizers, to let through…the enormous Unimog driven by the three gazelles of Team 217, Myriam, Evelyne and Sandra!

They have crossed the start line, and now the voyage begins: direction Clermont-Ferrand for the 2012 Gazelles where most of them will spend the night before setting out for Almeria in Spain, where they will catch the ferry to Nador! Until we catch up with them in Morocco, we wish them a good trip… and may the adventure begin!

The Departure Village: a Guided Tour


Just for you, our reporters are playing… official guides!

Imagine 500m² of tents with a view over the fountains of the Trocadero and, of course, the Eiffel Tower and L'Hôtel des Invalides! Welcome to the VIP space, accessible only to the Gazelles, Organizers, officials, partners and accredited journalists!

The perfect spot to host the players in this year's 22nd edition under the best conditions. The companies present, Aïcha, Total, La Poste, Gan, Logica, Atol, Mercedes-Benz Vans, Isuzu, Soleil Sucré and Volkswagen, are here with the Gazelles on this momentous occasion, with a showing in keeping with the grandeur of the location!






Atol, rallying against cancer


Since February 24th, stations have been set up in 770 Atol stores to collect used mobile phones. For every telephone collected and recycled, 1.40 Euros will be donated to Ligue contre le cancer [French Anti-Cancer Ligue].
The 4th largest glasses retailer in France with 375 million Euros is sales in 2011, this chain of opticians is an official Rallye partner for the first time this year.
"We have sent volunteer opticians for several years, and this year we decided to get more invlolved" explains Samantha Garnier, Head of Communications for Atol. The operation will end on March 27th.
Through their presence in the Medical Caravan, with an ophthalmologist and two opticians, Atol hopes to distribute more than 300 pairs of specially created frames and 1400 pre-crafted lenses, which will allow them to equip a patient with new glasses in less than half an hour. "We wanted to concentrate on the medical caravan" concludes Samantha Garnier.
As in previous years, Adriana Karembeu, the face of Atol, will be attending the Rallye.


Dominique Serra decorated by the Legion of Honour


In the early afternoon, the excitement felt in the crowded alleys of the Trocadero Gardens suddenly reached a feverish pitch as journalists rushed towards the VIP tent: Chantal Jouanno, former Sports Minister of France, was preparing to present Dominique Serra, creator of the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc, with the Order of the Legion of Honour.

For Chantal Jouanno, this medal is a reward "in the name of all women, for her example and the Rallye that she created. Dominque Serra has shown all women that they can make their dreams come true, that they should never give up their dreams!" The medal, fittingly enough, was pinned onto Mrs Serra's Rallye Organizer vest, in the presence of her loyal event partners.

Visibly moved, Dominique Serra took the floor to emphasize that "This medal is the recognition of my commitment to ethics and solidarity for all women! It also honours everyone who has supported me: my team, my partners and, especially, all of you, the women who have believed in my project!" Before finishing, amidst thunderous applause, she added: "This medal is yours!"












So Colissimo, So Generous...


Since 8:00 on this March 17 morning, the 30 volunteers from Colis Poste have been bustling about, surrounded by piles of bags and boxes.
Their goal? to sort the donations collected by the Gazelles: toys, clothing, hygiene products, shoes and books. The condition of each item is first checked, and they are then packaged according to recipient: child, man or woman.
The donations were collected in post offices across France and then transported to the Colissimo warehouse in the Parisian suburb of Genevilliers.
"This is the first time that Colis Poste has been involved, and it's a great operation" comments Claire Fanjeau, Diversity Manager at Colis Poste.
It is difficult to evaluate the volume of donations collected by our kind-hearted Gazelles, but judging from the impressive number of boxes and bags, the initiative has been a success that will allow the distribution of much-needed goods in the disadvantaged communities of the Moroccan south.


The race for the verification stations

Throughout the Auditorium, there is a bustle of activity around the various verification stations: administrative checks, installation of safety material (in particular the IRITRACK satellite system, allowing every vehicle to be followed in realtime and located to the nearest metre), distribution of maps, etc… the Gazelles finalize their preparations for the competition...



The Gazelles on M6, video 6

The Auditorium is packed for the 1st briefing!

On this Saturday morning, the Palais Royal Auditorium is full to capacity. This year's colour has been revealed: with some 250 Gazelles bedecked in their new 2012 vest, pink dominates the decor! A joyful, feminine colour, which sets the tone for the events to follow...


The Gazelles on M6, video 5

Live from the Trocadéro Gardens: the Launching of the 22nd edition

The 324m steel giant that dominates the skyline of the French Capital is the backdrop for a surprising spectacle right in the heart of Paris: on board their all-terrain vehiches proudly adorned from roof to bumper with the names of their sponsors, the Gazelles are gradually taking over the Trocadéro Gardens, famed attraction that welcomes millions of visitors every year.
What more prestigious place to host the official start of the 22nd edition of the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc and the 125 teams (out of a total of 150) who will be setting out from the City of Light to reach their final destination: the Moroccan desert.
But before making their way into the Palais Chaillot Auditorium for the first briefing of the day, the Gazelles proudly don the famous vest designed and manufactured by Soleil Sucré. "I am so proud to wear it; this is the realization of a dream started in 1997, when we told each other that one day we would do the Rallye des Gazelles, and now here we are" enthuses Bénédicte of Team 128! (Sandrine PROUIN and Bénédicte JEANNEL – SICAL)
No time to say more, the briefing is about to start!


PARIS hosts the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles

Paris, city of light
, attracts millions of tourists every year from around the globe. This year, Paris is also hosting the departure village of the 22nd edition of the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc, in the Trocadero Gardens, at the foot of the Eiffel Tower.
Today’s program, dedicated to preparations for the competition, includes the technical, administrative and medical verifications and the long-awaited decoration of the vehicles with the stickers and logos of the Rallye and its partners. The official start will be given at 16:30 in the presence of the media.

The departure village is open to the public: an opportunity to meet some of this year’s 301 Gazelles or chat with the event’s organizers, and to discover 15 of the event partners, set up within the 500 m² of tents that make up the departure village.

We recommend reaching the Trocadero Gardens by 16:00 to watch the start!

After the official start, the teams will drive across France and part of Spain to Almeria, where they will board the ferry for Nador. They will reach Moroccan soil on the morning of Tuesday March 20, and then make their way to Erfoud in the south of Morocco, known as the "gateway to the desert" – a nickname that speaks volumes!