The Machines of the Island at Nantes!

So looking back this was a surprise. We did not figure this attraction would take off but it has hugely, becoming the most visited in Nantes! This is the Machines of the Island of Nantes and I will update it for you here. Hope you enjoy it.

So visiting our favorite big city of the west we come to Nantes often. The city is just about 1h30 from me on the expressway road N165 and it is the airport that I used now for all my trips as well even using the train station there! It has many wonderful things to see and it should be noted.  I have written several posts on Nantes but like to tell you about a unique thing to do there. By the way, the city is in departement 44 Loire-Atlantique in the region of Pays de la Loire.

And now on this marvelous modern to do thing in an old city of the west of France. It is a great family gathering  and a nice contrast to the old section of the city.

Les Machines de l’île or The Machines of the island are a space of exhibition and animation located in Nantes on the ïle de Nantes (island of Nantes), in the parc des Chantiers (boat yards), at the site of an abandoned shipyards. They were inaugurated in 2007. The Machines of the island are located at the crossroads of the Worlds inventions of Jules Verne, the mechanical universe of Leonardo da Vinci and the industrial history of Nantes.


The metro Nantes Métropole  convinced by the idea of François Delarozière, creator of certain machines of spectacle of the Royal company of luxury and artistic director of the association “La Machine”, and of Pierre Orefice of the associations Manaüs , and decided to develop on the island a tourist project:   The Machines of the island initially include the Great Elephant, a prototype branch of the Heron Tree, the Carousel of the Marine worlds, and a children’s carousel, the Andrea’s merry-go-round. The number of machines is intended to increase as the creations progress.  The Machines of the island are built in the former shipyards of the Dubigeon located in the yards park. In one of the naves, the workshop is the place of creation of the Machine, Association of Manufacturers and creators of living spectacle. On more than 3 000 m2, engineers, technicians, boilers, welders, sculptors and carpenters work on structures and materials.   From two terraces at 7.5 meters in height, the public can observe the creators of machines in full activity in their world of wood and steel.



The Great Elephant is located in the naves and was inaugurated in 2007. It is made of wood (carved) and steel and weighs 48.4 tons. Measuring 12 meters in height for 8 meters in width, it can accommodate 52 passengers per trip. On board, the visitor discovers a panorama of Trentemoult in the place de Commerce. It has a vision of the mechanism and every vibration of the elephant is felt. To the elephant is associated an aerial footbridge installed near the naves that allows the descent of the passengers “go” and the ascent of the passengers “return”. Since the opening of the Carousel of the Marine Worlds in 2012, the descent of the Elephant, to the go, is done on a special platform on this carousel, as well as the ascent for the return to the gallery of machines.


The Carousel of the Marine Worlds is a 25-meers-high giant carousel, populated by 36 movable elements representing marine creatures on three levels: seabed, abyss, sea and boats the mobile elements made since the opening of the site are exposed In the machine gallery and in the workshop.


From sketch to machine in operation, to manufacturing in the workshop, it is the whole process of creation that is presented to visitors in the Gallery of Machines. The visitors are invited by the machinists to take orders from the animals of the great depths which, since 2012, populate the Carousel of the Marine worlds. The Gallery of machines houses a whole bestiary of machines. During the visit, the gallery is animated by the machinists who explain the history and operation of these strange worlds. Mini-spectacle creatures from five to ten minutes. Sketches, models and films relate all the construction.



The Heron tree, will be a steel tree of 50 meters in diameter and 35 meters high (45 up to the head of the herons in flight), topped by two herons. Visitors will be able to travel from branch to branch of astonishing hanging gardens and embark under the wings of the herons. The municipality concludes that the Heron tree would not be realized during the current mandate which ends in 2020, for budgetary reasons on the one hand, and by the absence of land to accommodate the work in good economic conditions, Urban and landscape on the other hand (the urban park projected to the west of the island of Nantes, capable of hosting the structure. The latest is that it will be opened by 2022. More info here:


A recap:  The les Machines de l’île is at the old parc des chantiers navales, the navy depot, now converted into an amusement park of great proportion. You have restaurant  and boutique service on site. There is a covered parking Les Machines as well. Or you can take line 1 of tramway to stop Mediathéque or Chantiers Navals and walk over the bridge Anne de Bretagne.

The best to see is the la galerie des machines with man made animals and birds as well as an avion or airplane with demonstrations that is very educational and active for the whole family. You can ,then, hop on a the Le Grand Elephant, 12 meters high, 8 M wide, and 21 meters long with 48,4 tons of steel and wood running at 1-3 kph! and ride all over the park and into the galerie des machines!Another item is the carrousel des mondes marins, a carrousel with fish machines all showing how the sea deeps and abyss all the way to the surface is interconnected. The carrousel is 25 meters high and 22 meters in diameter. Don’t forget to go thru the Serre Tropicale and see how  plants and machines animals interact. You go out and across the big hallway and into the shops /atéliers above where the artists do their work on the maintenance of these machines and plants.


Right in this park you will find the Atéliers and chantiers navales de Nantes, building now an exposition center of great value with great work showcase as well as an excellent location.  The site is accessible by public transport of the agglomeration Nantes: tramway line 1 station Chantiers Navals and Chronobus line C5 stop Prairie au Duc. Plenty of parkings just past the entrance to the Machines on street or underground.

Some additional webpages to help you plan your trip here are:

The tourist office of Nantes on the Machines:

The official site of the La Galerie des Machines

The webpage of the La Machines Company in English:

There you go a nice family gathering in modern Nantes all along the Loire river! Very nice indeed! Fun place we really like it and even as boys become men, we still have gone by it. Hope you have the opportunity soon.

And remember ,happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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2 Comments to “The Machines of the Island at Nantes!”

  1. It’s a curious place!

    Liked by 1 person

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