Machines of the Isle of Nantes

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One of the Machines, Le Grand Élephant

The Machines of the Isle of Nantes (Les Machines de l'île) is an artistic, touristic and cultural project based in Nantes, France. In the old covered buildings of the former shipyards in Nantes that were at one time used for ship construction (les nefs), and later used as business sites,[1] the Machines of the Isle are created by two artists, François Delarozière (of La Machine production company) and Pierre Orefice (of Manaus association).

The projects aim to promote the city's image and intend to build an identity for it as a creative metropolis of dream and of fantasy. The site was opened to the public on 1 July 2007.


The Great Elephant (2007) is a mechanical elephant, 12 metres (39 ft) and 8 metres (26 ft) meters wide, made from 45 tons of wood and steel. It can take up to 49 passengers for a 45-minute walk. It is an inexact 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 is designed to carry spectators.

The Marine Worlds Carousel (2012) is a huge carousel, rising nearly 25m high and measuring 20m in diameter. It features 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 branch prototype of the Heron Tree

The Heron Tree (2014) is a steel structure 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.

The Machine Gallery is an exhibition place to illustrate the background story of the machines. Some visitors are invited to control marine animals or the European Flight Test Center. The entire process of the construction is on display by sketches, models and films. In July 2008, three new machines were added into the gallery.

The Workshop 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.


  1. ^ Réhabilitation des Nefs du site des Chantiers navals., retrieved 29 November 2016 CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

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