Paris Trocadéro


M6 video - March 17th 2014 - Trocadero 3rd part

Official start and a tribute to Franco-Moroccan friendship

A crowd has gathered behind the security barriers for the ceremonial start of this year's Rallye. It's a strategic spot from which to admire the vehicles, the stickers and the teams. Actress Danielle Evenou, who has taken part in the Rallye several times, and Jean-Marc Généreux, the Canadian coach from "Danse avec les Stars", wouldn't have missed this day for anything. They are among the many fans who have come to pay tribute to the Gazelles and to give them some last words of encouragement! "We'll see them on the Essaouira beach in two weeks with huge smiles on their faces. I'm sure that they're going to have many unforgettable experiences", predicts Jean-Marc!


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At 3 o'clock sharp, Dominique Serra, founder and director of the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles, waves the starting flag under the Hexis arch. Chakib Ben Moussa, the Moroccan Ambassador in France, addresses the crowd: "I would like to wish them all a good Rallye, an adventure full of emotion and the joy of discovering our country and our people" declares the Ambassador.


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Groupe la Poste president Philippe Wahl wanted to be on the starting line in support of his teams of "Postal Gazelles" who are on the brink of departure. "Our involvement with the Rallye for all these years is a way to highlight the importance of engagement and team spirit. I hope that they will make the most of this adventure and will remain as enthusiastic as they were at the selections. Above all, they should be proud of what they are about to do." he adds.


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4 o'clock: All of the teams have passed under the starting arch. They will spend the night in Riom in France's Massif Central region before heading to Barcelona, where they will board the ferry for Tangier. After driving across Morocco and the Atlas Mountains, they will meet up with the other teams and the organization in the desert for the start of the competition.


Atol: a sense of solidarity

France's 4th largest optician chain is renewing its commitment to the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles, with which it shares a concern for the environment – they are both certified ISO 14001. Official supplier of optical equipment for the Cœur de Gazelle medical caravan for the past 8 years, Atol will also have 3 teams on the starting line: 193 (Peggy Kanbelle and Nicole Arfeuillere - ATOL ST MAXIMIN), 194 (Sandrine Allouet and Audrey Laurent - ATOL LES OPTICIENS) and 235 (Anne-sophie Caron and Sabra Hantz -  ATOL SAINT GRATIEN - ATOL BEAUVAIS).


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In accordance with its human resources policy, Atol is committed to helping its employees to flourish within the company. 6 women were chosen to show their determination and team spirit in the Moroccan desert from among 24 candidates. It is also a way for Atol to demonstrate its cooperative spirit and civic values. "The entire cooperative is proud to be represented by these women - opticians and Atol employees - who are taking part in this event that is based on the values of respect, solidarity and sustainable development. These values are important to us: we are the only opticians' cooperative with ISO 14001 certification" declared Philippe Peyrard, CEO of Atol. 


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Setting course for the desert

Half an hour before the official start, time seems to accelerate. A flurry of photos and hugs and some honking of horns testify to the impatience felt by the teams. Some red eyes can be seen, such as those of this little boy as he accompanies his mother to her truck.


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It's the time for some final advice from those who are not attending the Rallye but who will be following the action from a distance on our "live" website, and many cries of "Break a leg, ladies!" The teams will sleep in Riom tonight and then continue tomorrow to Barcelona, where they will board the ferry to Tangier. After driving across Morocco and the Atlas Mountains, they will meet up with the other teams and the organization in the desert for the start of the competition.


The Rallye through the eyes of: Mardoché Devico, CEO of Aïcha

3 questions put to Mardoché Devico, CEO of Aïcha.

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Why did you decided to partner an event that is for women only?

"It's a question of conviction. More than 50% of our employees are women, including in managerial positions. We are way over the national average."

What are the benefits of your partnership?

"The Rallye receives media coverage in over twenty countries; this broadcasts and strengthens our image abroad, in a highly competitive industry. It is also a good way to promote the expertise and dynamic economy of Morocco."

How is the Rallye seen by the people of Morocco?

"Our brand enjoys very positive public opinion. For Moroccans, we are part of the country's historical heritage. As a result, they have a lot of sympathy for the Rallye, which they consider to be a good tool for promoting their country and a legitimate event, all the more so since Dominique Serra (founder and director of the Rallye - Editor's note) was named as Officer of the Order of the Throne last year, the equivalent of the French Legion of Honour."


VIP area: full house

They are hard to miss, even through the crowd. Gan employees have turned out in force to show their support for the 3 teams who will be competing for their company. Decked out in electric blue wigs and feather boas, laughing and singing, they are going all out! The Volkswagen, Aïcha, Hexis,Total, Groupe La Poste, Saint-Honoré Paris and Soleil Sucré, booths are all buzzing with activity!


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M6 video - March 17th 2014 - Trocadero 2nd part

Happy, like the Gazelles!

The Gazelles danced their ritual "flash mob" to the sound of "Happy" by Pharell Williams today before the official start. The participants went through the motions of shovelling and scanning the horizon as they performed the choreography created by Canadian choreographer and judge on "Danse avec les stars" Jean-Marc Généreux. "Clap along if you feel that’s what you wanna do..." Yes, apparently that is what they want to do - along with the large crowd of spectators!


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GAN: supporting those who dare

It is written in the DNA of this subsidiary of Groupama. Historically an insurer of businesses, today Gan offers a range of services to individuals who show initiative in their personal and professional lives. Gan targets that part of us that "dares", the people who see life as an opportunity to take the initiative.


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It therefore comes as no surprise that Gan is partnering the Rallye for the 4th consecutive year, with Gazelles who are sure to get ahead and "make their way". New this year, the company is entering 3 teams, 2 of which were chosen during a special selection process organized by MAÏENGA back in November.



Lineup at La Poste

The La Poste booth is crowded with Gazelles and guests with smiles on their faces and hot drinks in hand. Today, members of the public have a special opportunity to write to their favourite teams thanks to two special "Rallye des Gazelles" postcards created for the occasion - all that remains is to write on them and post them in the lovely yellow mailbox provided!


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Since 2004, La Poste has made it possible for internet users to send email to the teams during the Rallye.  Nathalie and Elsa, this year's postmasters from La Poste, will download, print, sort and distribute all of the emails sent by families, friends and sponsors. The Gazelles will be able to collect their mail every evening in the yellow tent.

To write to a team: click here for the list of teams and then click on "WRITE@GAZELLES"!


Cœur de Gazelles: Gazelles with big hearts...

The Rallye Aicha des Gazelles is not satisfied with driving hundreds of kilometres across the Moroccan desert. It is also there to help the local populations. The non-profit organization Cœur de Gazelles was created for this purpose. Today the Coeur de Gazelles boutique has set up shop at the Trocadéro, as it will at the bivouac. Last year, sales from the boutique raised 2,000 for the women and children of Morocco.


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The boutique is selling key rings decorated with a soft heart that is stuffed with discarded plastic bags collected in the southern villages, handmade by a group of women from Merzouga. Other products, such as key rings, iPhone and iPad cases are being sold in aid of the Alpes Maritimes League against Cancer to finance their Espace Ligue de Nice, a program offering recreational and creative workshops for people suffering from cancer. A total of 4,500 people benefited from the program in 2013.


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In Morocco, Cœur de Gazelles runs a medical caravan that visits the regions through which the Rallye passes. A 54-member team - doctors, nurses, dentists, gynaecologists and more - provide free care to families, many of whom are too isolated to have regular access to health care. During the 2013 edition, 6,700 consultations were given, 9,000 boxes of medicine were distributed and more than 200 patients were referred to hospitals for further care. The organization also took part in the construction of 8 wells, and 3 new wells are planned for this year. Once again, bravo to the Gazelles!


M6 video - March 17th 2014 - Trocadero 1st part

So Colissimo: donation drive off without a hitch

By 11:30, the 25 La Poste volunteers had finished sorting and packing in boxes the many donations collected by the Gazelles and handed in today at the Trocadéro. A 20 m3 truck loaded with donations will leave tomorrow, and will join the Cœur de Gazelles medical caravan on Thursday.


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This truck is taking over from that which left yesterday with the donations collected over the past month by the La Poste staff across France and the staff of GAN Insurance, who are taking part in this donation drive for the first time this year. The donations include a large amount of clothing, shoes, toys, hygiene products and medical equipment such as wheelchairs and walkers.

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The early hours of the big day

Under a covered Parisian sky, the first teams began to take their places around 7:00 a.m. on a prestigious starting line. The Eiffel Tower looms in the distance, silhouetted by a timid ray of sun. The vehicles are parked in a precise and orderly formation: along the reception tents, the 5 La Poste Dacia Dusters provide the gardens with a yellow border. In front of them, the Dusters representing Team Renault, the dynamic Women@Renault, are impeccably placed in all their shiny (but temporary!) whiteness.


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Along the side, the 14 Total teams form a sparkling red ribbon, their fluorescent green rims catching the eye of the passers-by. Doors open, music playing, the Gazelles hit the tarmac, some performing the "flash mob" choreography! Their neighbours, Team Volkswagen, easily recognizable by their 10 lovely Amaroks decorated with stylized flowers, wait patiently in the mist of the Trocadéro fountain. They are followed by a long convoy of colourful 4WD vehicles, those of the individual teams. An interesting contrast with the horses of the Republican Gard patrolling the alleys of the Trocadéro. All is still calm before the rush of families, guests and spectators who will converge on the Gardens in the hours to come… 50,000 people were in attendance at last years official start. 


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Paris: Trocadéro - Saturday March 15

Trocadéro Gardens, PARIS: Official start of the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles

Paris, city of lights, attracts tens of millions of tourists from around the world every year. Today Paris plays host to the official start of the 24th edition du Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc, in the Trocadéro Gardens at the foot of the iconic Eiffel Tower.

The official start will take place at 3:00 p.m. in the presence of the media.

The "departure village" is open to the public: a 500 m² tent space where friends and fans can meet some of the 320 Gazelles, chat with the event organizers, and visit the kiosques of the event partners.

After the official start, the teams will drive across France and part of Spain to Barcelona, where they will catch the ferry to Tangier, Morocco.
The Gazelles will arrive on Moroccan soil on the evening of Tuesday March 18 and will then head for Erfoud in Southern Morocco, known as the "Gateway to the desert", a nickname that says it all!