The dust rises on the horizon. If there were background music, it would be something by Ennio Morricone. The (mechanical) horses arrive at a gallop; one by one, the mounts pull up next to each other, in neat lines. Ready for the parade along the Champs Élysées? The teams will have to wait a little longer before discovering the camp that will be their “home” for the next several evenings.
Surprises, even for the “old-timers”
The “regulars” are surprised by the sheer size of the installations, while the newcomers can hardly believe their eyes! They knew the bivouac was beautiful, but they weren’t expecting this. They look everywhere, explore everything. Some laugh out loud to cover their feelings, and others are literally in tears. They take this moment as a gift. It is true that this bivouac is beautiful. They follow the red carpets that guide them from tent to tent.
First there is the bar, with its Tsarine champagne lamps (Rally partner since 2016), its small tables, stools and benches for the Gazelles to gather, rest and eat, and the immense white restaurant tent.
The cherry on top
For the 30th anniversary, the bivouac has two hairdressers, with workstations set up in a lovely red, green and gold tent. They are here to take care of the Gazelles’ hair, and to provide nourishing treatments against the harsh conditions of the desert (helmets, sun, wind, heat…). With or without appointments, depending on availability.
Next to the medical tent, two physiotherapists are busy working out the kinks caused by the day’s exertions.
A washroom zone is set up at the edge of the camp, with trucks containing flush toilets and hot showers.
For their nights, all the gazelles’ tents are grouped together, forming a pretty patchwork of colourful demi spheres.
And the surprise…
This evening when they get back from the prologue, a lovely surprise awaits: palm trees have been planted all over the bivouac! Part of a palm grove that was in the process of drying up, the trees were dug up by a local association in order to be replanted in another palm grove a few kilometres away. A palm tree can spend more than 15 days with its roots exposed; during their transition, they have been temporarily installed at the bivouac in huge irrigated planters, forming a magnificent improvised palm grove.
“It’s incredible!” exclaims Catherine of Team 21 (Catherine KERAMIDAS / Hélène LEMAITRE), even though she is used to the bivouac, having done the Rallye 14 times. In addition to the palm trees, the group “The Midnight Train” is providing background music. “It’s magnificent. What a great reward after getting back from the leg”, exclaim Mylène and Ingrid of Team 40 (Ingrid AMBLARD / Mylène MEJEAN). This 30th edition promises to be exciting!