France’s incredible mechanical elephant at Les Machines de l’île in Nantes

Published June 4, 2011

The French are known for some pretty impressive engineering feats, such as the Eiffel Tower or TGV Train network. Less well known however is the amazing engineering accomplished by the Les Machines de l’île, an artistic and tourist project based in Nantes about 3 hours train ride west of Paris.

The highlight of a visit to the project is a ride on the centerpiece of the project – The Great Elephant. This impressive mechanic beast is 12 metres high, can carry 40 passenger and plods along slowly, spraying water and trumpeting loudly. The 45 minute ride costs 7 Euro. The elephant is actually a replica of one that featured in The Sultan’s Elephant, an unusual street show that took place in London in 2006.


The other major component of Les Machines de l’île is a visit to the workshop (also 7 Euros). There, visitors have a chance to view and ride components of a new attraction in the works: a massive 25 meter high carousel featuring sea creatures on three levels. Several of the sea creatures have already been built, and each one is ridden by a small group of guests. It’s a pretty incredible sight even though the project is far from finished.


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