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The Elephant, the day of the inauguration

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


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

The Concept

In the warehouses of the former shipyards in Nantesmarker, the Machines of the Isle is created by two artists, François Delarozière and Pierre Orefice, 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

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

Three major Machines projects include :

  • the Great Elephant (2007)
  • the Marine Worlds Carrousel (Spring 2010)
  • the Heron Tree (2014)

The Great Elephant

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 replica of The Sultan's Elephant which toured the world from 2005 to 2007.

The Marine Worlds Carrousel

The Marine Worlds Merry-Go-Round is a carrousel of 27 undersea creatures, such as manta ray, reverse-propelling squid, pirate fish, crab larva, etc.

The Heron Tree

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)

Image:Les Mondes marins1.jpg|The miniature of the Marine Worlds Merry-Go-RoundImage:Les Machines - branche prototype arbre aux oiseaux.JPG|The branch prototype of the Heron Tree

The Machine Gallery

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 Centre, 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

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.

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