Les Machines de L’Ile

September 30

Nantes hosts a very peculiar museum. “Les Machines de l’île” is a totally unprecedented artistic project. Born from the François Delarozière and Pierre Orefice’s imagination, it is at crossroads of Jules Verne’s “invented worlds”, of the mechanical universe of Leonardo da Vinci, and of Nantes’ industrial history, on the exceptional site of the former shipyards.


The Grand Elephant: The mechanical elephant is 12 meters high, 8 meters wide and 21m long, made from 45 tons of wood and steel. It can take up to 50 passengers for a 45-minute walk. It looks quite strange to see this huge creature walking around.

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Galerie des Machines: A heron with a 8-metre (26-foot) wingspan, with passengers in tow, flies over the large-scale model of the Tree of Herons planted in the middle of the Galerie. Real plants grow next to mechanical ones, and if you are lucky you might be asked to control the treetop animals.

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The “Tree of Herons will be the next big project – by now it exists only as a model. It will be 30 m high with real plants and mechanical animals.

The Marine World’s Carousel: This giant carousel, almost 25 m (82 ft.) high and 22 m (72 ft.) in diameter, is a reinvention of fairground art. Three carousels are stacked in concrete lacework,
crowned by a Big Top that is itself adorned with pediments, and guarded by 16 fishermen from all the world’s oceans.

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We only saw it from the outside because we didn’t want to queue.


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