The World As Passenger

Most of the stands at Valloire were vendors of 4×4 accessories, and a good number of tour operators were exhibiting as well. Most of these offered organized rally-raid adventures, both for travelers who have their own vehicles as well as those needing to rent one.

One exception was a small stand just off the main alley. Actually, it was just a Toyota 4×4 with a camper and a small table of books set up beside it. This was the stand of photojournalist Marc Mellet. In 2006, he set out alone to document a voyage overland from Paris to Kamchatka in a Toyota BJ75. This wasn’t just to be the story of a solitary traveler, he intended to offer the passenger seat to people he met along the way, giving them the chance to see more of their country and creating an opportunity for a more meaningful encounter and cultural exchange.

At the fair, he was selling signed copies of his book about the trip, Le Monde Comme Passager (The World As Passenger). The book is a beautiful hard copy with a selection of magnificent photos. The accompanying bilingual narrative (French and English) recounts the story and many of the unexpected surprises along the way. Although mainly a travelogue, there’s a section at the end describing Marc’s preparation of the BJ75 and presenting some general advice for readers interested in making a similar trip.

We bought a copy to offer as a gift for someone with an interest in traveling to Mongolia and thought it worth mentioning as many readers of the blog may also enjoy learning about it. Proceeds from the sale of the book may already have been spent on gas since Marc and his companion were planning to leave on a new voyage a few days after the fair, this time equipped with a UAV and video camera to film the adventure.

Their website (in French) seems to have been updated to include a section for news about the latest trip. There aren’t any posts yet, but it looks like they’ll be sharing photos, audio and video along the way.

A Weekend At The 2012 Valloire 4×4 Fair

We spent the weekend in Valloire at the 4×4 fair at the end of August.

It was a bit cool, but the weather was sunny and other than a thunderstorm on Saturday night, it was a perfect weekend to visit the stands with 4×4 vehicles, accessories, tents, and camping cabins, lingering to talk and exchange information and stories about offroad travel with other passionate fans. We ran into many old acquaintances from the Breslau and Tuareg rallies, in addition to making lots of new ones.

Many of the exhibitors were showing campers, from simple sleeper modules for 4×4 cars and trucks to fully-equipped cabins with convertible kitchen and sleeping areas, including shower and WC. We were impressed by the Globe Camper offroad cabins. We spent a good deal of time talking to the owners and had a chance to speak with some of their clients who had come to the fair and were willing to share their experiences with the product.

There were also several rally assistance trucks at the show, including the Breslau Rallye Organisation’s Renault Kerax 440:

This truck was not designed to have an integrated Central Tire Inflation System, but one has been retrofitted.

QTS Rallye Raid Assistance was also there with their Tatra 6×6 assistance truck.