Jeep Club BeLux has a long yearly tradition of celebrating the end of the holiday and summer period by organizing it's Marquenterre "sand and dunes" weekend in Normandy, France, on the coast of Picardy.
Marquenterre is a magnificent natural reserve in the Northern part of France, and is unique in several ways. It combines nature preservation aspects, with possibilities, amongst others, to visit the domain by 4X4. The area of the domain consists mostly of unspoilt dunes, and it extends to over 1,000 hectare in the Somme bay.
As each year, this small-scale event attracts enthusiast Jeep Club members, who are happy to travel down South, and reach the beautiful coastal area after a small 2 hour drive. The weekend is always made up of a cozy welcome evening on Friday, a whole day of off-road driving on Saturday with a culinary supper in the evening, and a long breakfast and free day on Sunday.
For the 2010 edition, the group was composed of 10 cars, all but a single and brave Grand Cherokee, Wranglers. Experience levels of the drivers and participants ranged from beginner to very experienced., and equipment varied alike.
As usual, we got to the domain in the morning around 09h30 for a security and nature guidelines briefing, and, given the sandy area, a thorough air-down session. After much hissing and checking of the tires, we set of for the drive with a happy sun accompanying us, pushing some of the JK's to cast their tops off.
The area of Marquenterre is made up of sand, dunes, and prairie-like areas, sprinkled with a fair amount of spruce trees. A number of nicer hills in the dunes allow for great precision driving climbs and descents, challenging the drivers to go for momentum and drive fast enough to get up the hill, but be careful enough not to hit branches or trees in the bumpy climb upward. The descents are fairly easy and just require the standard low range, and first or second gear without brakes. Each obstacle is taking together, and each team is a supporter and assistant for the other teams in spotting and winching.
The end of the tour brought us to the edge of the domain, on the coastal line, with a superb view on the North Sea.
The 4X4 driving, in the unique sand dunes of Marquenterre, combined with a nice hotel and tasty seafood and other dishes, in the company of like-minded fellow Jeepers, was once again a sure-shot recipe for a great Jeep weekend!