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Ladies Rally Vintage Cars 2020, a Western Journey Edition

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16 September
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It was a sunny Sunday, September 13th, on a hot morning in the mytical place of Cafe de Paris, Monte Carlo, that the 7th edition of the Ladies Rally Vintage Cars began its journey. Yes, not a day, but a journey! A hot Western journey as it seemed that all the Wild Wild West landed at the Place of Casino. Cowboy boots, wide-brim hats, fringed jackets, suede dresses, jeans and denim shirts, and a lot of belts. Indians, also, seemed to find their places at the tables sniffing the freshly baked croissants while Victorian dresses were sweeping the Monegasque glamorous floors with a Western dignity.

Building schools in India for the education of the girls

Martine Ackermann, the President of the Association Child Care Monaco, who organizes this charity event, was the sun and the sheriff, for the day. With such an amazing organization, you must have the best skills as Martine Ackermann has. And, for a noble cause, most importantly!

Martine Ackermann organizes this Rallye, along with a charity Gala in December, to raise awareness and money for the access to education for the Indian girls. Since its beginning in 2012, Martine Ackermann has built a school in India, in Rajasthan, in 2015, thanks to the charitable donations. It, also, supports the Tabaar program in Jaipur which takes care of the homeless children, offering them shelter and education, as well as the "library bus" that goes in the slum area of the city.

Vintage Cars, precious jewels on wheels

9:30 was the precise time for the start off. The 65 participants mounted their 31 "horses", old vintage cars that shinned their glamour all the way around. Among them there was a 1922 Citroen and a Louis Vuitton dressed-up like it was ready to impress everybody, a golden Mustang in the hues of the day and many other beauties. Some were really precious jewels thinking of their value, like the Ferrari HRS worth 2,5 million euros.

And just like in a Western movie, feathers, fringes and cowboy hats waving in the air, we started the Rally with our road book in one hand and the smiles all around. A trip to the countryside was in front of us! Of course, some have totally forgotten about the road book and found themselves lost and late for the first destination, others cheered themselves up with champagne all the way and made a stop in the forest to dance just like old ancient Western people would do. Others found themselves in a totally different direction so, at some point, searching for their way back to the first stop of the Rallye, they ran out of gas.

First Stop: Monts d'Azur Reservation, an oasis of green and wild animals

But, for most of the Ladies, the first destination was about to be unveiled: The Monts d'Azur Reservation, a 700 ha total green natural space, the first animal reserve in Europe which aims to reintroduce ancestral and astonishing species of fauna and flora dating from the Neolithic era, in total freedom.

Here, the ladies were taken into the chariots to a safari experience where they could see the Russian wild horses Przewalski and the buffalos. I joined the chariot with the Irish team who cheered it up by singing country music and showing a lot of enthusiasm.  The feeling of having these wild animals so close was such a mirage.

Przewalski's horses are the last surviving subspecies of wild horse. First described scientifically in the late 19th century by Russian explorer N. M. Przewalski, for whom the horse is named, the horse once freely roamed the steppe along the Mongolia-China border. Now, we had the chance to see them in all their beauty, just few metres away. Just like the huge buffaloes, who showed not to be bothered too much by our presence and enjoying their habitual rhythm. One of them passed so close to the carriage that some of the Ladies got scared.

"Not to be scared!" said the girl driving the chariot. "Buffalos are herbivorous animals and do not attack. They defend their territory and act likewise when they feel fear!"

Fear away, we made some room for the lunch at the Reservation just like a Western lady would do, outdoors and in full natural environment, surrounded by animals and nature.

Tea time at an equestrian center

Then, time to kick off for the next stop, our tea time at an equestrian center in Villeneuve Loubet. Strolling with a Mercedes 250 SLK through these amazing countryside roads and mountains, bathed in a sweet September light, was a pure pleasure. The sun was soft, pouring its light between the colourful leaves and guiding our way to the next stop. This time was easier for me and my teammate, Virginie, to follow the road book and not the car in front of us who mislead us, the first round!

In the sunset light, on an entrance reminding me of the Southfork ranch in Dallas, the cars were coming one by one. Tea time was ready, cookies were at rendez-vous and an amazing aerobatics horse show was about to take us all by surprise. What those girls could do stirred our curiosity, but the beauty of those horses stirred our emotions and affection.

But the ladies were to be spoiled, once again, with the tombola. Some of the lucky ones went home with beautiful prizes from perfumes, wine boxes, cosmetics, bags, to mention a few.

The final stop: Palais Princier

After these convivial moments, it was time for our last part of the road. Monaco was waiting for us at sunset and the Monegasque moon was eager to discover the winners of this edition. The final stop: Palais Princier!

Each year, Ladies are greeted by the Monegasques officials like the Secretary of State, Mister Jacques Boisson, the Minister of Interior, Mister Patrice Cellario, the President of the National Council, Mister Stephane Valeri, and the Deputy Mayor, Mister Jacques Pastor. Delighted by this year's theme, cars and the perfect respect of all the sanitary rules, according to the actual Covid-19 situation, the officials were happy to handle the prizes to the winners. The ambiance was so convivial that everybody was having a blast of joy and a final cup of champagne to celebrate a magical day.

The winning team was that of Virginie, four strong ladies with outstanding Western outfits, like taken straight from a Western movie. And this culture has influenced us a lot in what America is all about and the idea got romanticized so much that it turned into the idea of the American Dream.

One thing was sure: the entire journey that Martine Ackermann prepared for this Ladies Rally was more than a dream: it was a reality drawn from a dream, a Western dream of nature, wild animals, outdoor magic, pure joy and laughter. Cherry on top: for a good cause!

"It was quite a challenging day! It will take a week to recover! But I'm super happy! We had a magnificent scenery, ambiance, outfits! The ladies were super motivated and playful!

It always makes me happy to make others happy! Even more in this anxious period of time where everyone is a little depressed or stressed ...

I tried to find an original idea in correlation with the Western theme! And, it is true that going to visit the Parc Monts d'Azur, was great ... being in 70,000 square meters of nature and magnificent scenery ...

We also had the horse show during the tea time which was magnificent!

We have collected money so we will be able to buy food kits and build a small school with two classes in the region of Odisha in Gopalpur, south of Calcutta.

For the next year, I am calling on vintage car owners to help us and to participants to come with their own cars.

The date for the next Rallye 2021 will take place on Sunday 12 September! The theme? I'm still keeping it a secret!

But, in the meantime, our next meeting is our charity gala dinner on December 5, 2020. Save the date!" declared Martine Ackermann with a heart full of love and joy like she used us all the time.

For donations and participations to the Child Care events, enter the website: www.childcaremonaco.com

Write by email: childcare@monaco.mc

Contact Facebook page: Child Care Monaco

 

Article by Andra Oprea