Machines of the Isle of Nantes

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The Machines of the Isle of Nantes (Les Machines de l'île) is an artistic, touristic and cultural project based in Nantes, France.


The project of Machines de l'île in Nantes aims to promote the city's image and tries to build an identity as a creative metropole of dream and of fantasy.

The Concept[edit]

In the warehouses of the former shipyards in Nantes, the Machines of the Isle is created by two artists, François Delarozière (La Machine) and Pierre Orefice (Manaus association), visualising a travel-through-time world at the crossroads of the "imaginary worlds" of Jules Verne and the mechanical universe of Leonardo da Vinci.

The Site[edit]

Since 1 July 2007, the site is open to the public.

Three major Machines projects include :

  • the Great Elephant (2007)
  • the Marine Worlds Carrousel (2012)
  • the Heron Tree (2014)

The Great Elephant[edit]

The mechanical elephant is 12 meters high and 8 meters wide, made from 45 tons of wood and steel. It can take up to 49 passengers for a 45-minute walk. It is a non-exact replica of The Sultan's Elephant from Royal de Luxe, which toured the world from 2005 to 2007 (the main difference being that this elephant was designed to carry spectators).

The Marine Worlds Carousel[edit]

The Marine Worlds is a huge carousel, rising nearly 25m high and measuring 20m in diameter. It will feature 35 moving underwater creatures on three levels: the ocean floor, the depths, and sea and boats. Visitors will be able to move about amidst a ballet of aquatic animals and sea carriages, as well as climb aboard and guide the movements of the Machines.

The Heron Tree[edit]

The Heron Tree is a steel structure of 45 meters in diameter and 28 meters in height, topped with two herons. The project plans to allow visitors to climb either onto the back or onto the wings of the birds for a circular flight over the hanging gardens of the tree.

  • Photo Gallery: (Click to enlarge photos)

The Machine Gallery[edit]

This is an exhibition place to illustrate the background story of the machines. Some visitors could be invited to control marine animals or the European Flight Test Center, etc.

The entire process of the construction is on display by sketches, models and films. In July 2008, three new machines are scheduled to be added into the gallery.

The Workshop[edit]

This is the site of fabrication for people to observe the ongoing building process. Today, the construction of the Marine Worlds occupies one part of the workshop.

External links[edit]


Coordinates: 47°12′22″N 1°33′53″W / 47.20600°N 1.56482°W / 47.20600; -1.56482