Les Machines de l’île, situated on
the "L'Ile de Nantes", are a totally unprecedented artistic
The Ile de Nantes is a huge area undergoing redevelopment
located in the heart of the city along the banks of the Loire
River. The 337-hectare Ile de Nantes project is one of the
largest urban projects in Europe. Nantes Métropole wanted to
give a new vocation to the site of the former shipyards while
still respecting its past.
from the imaginations of
François Delarozière and Pierre Orefice, the Machines of
the Island are at the crossroads of Jules Verne’s
"invented worlds", the mechanical universe of Leonardo da
Vinci, and of Nantes’ industrial history, on the exceptional
site of the former shipyards.
Their backwards and forwards
between the building workshop and the Galerie give impetus to
the movement at the heart of the former Dubigeon naves. They
convey a mysterious reality to this island just like the time
when vessels were launched there for all the trips of the world.
Demonstrating the creative process
two designers also chose to put the entire creative process on
display, from the very first sketches drawn by François
Delarozière. The materials are in their natural state, and the
mechanisms are all visible. The building process can be seen for
all the sculptures, whether steel or wood.
Being able to watch the workshop of
the company La Machine in activity enhances this unprecedented
tour / performance that is both entertaining and educational.
this majestic animal goes out for a walk, it is like
architecture in motion leaving a steel cathedral. 50 passengers
can embark on an amazing journey.
aboard, you will see the moving gears that power the legs. A
machinist will tell you stories about the elephant and have it
blast its trunk for your pleasure.
Being on the back of the Grand Éléphant is like being on the 4th
floor of a travelling house, with a breathtaking view of the
The Galerie des
The Galerie is a living space showcasing a veritable bestiary of
machines. The machines built in the workshops of theatre company
La Machine, are tested in this lab.
During your visit, the machinists will explain the history and
workings of these strange creatures and breathe life into the
imaginary world of the Arbre aux Hérons, major project of Les
Machines de l’île.
mechanical Spider joined the bestiary of the Heron Tree at the
heart of the Galerie des Machines. Sleeping in its nest, it is
awakened by the machinists
who seat four people on its abdomen. It climbs up along its
threads, and moves above the public.
High up in the rafters of the Galerie des Machines, you can see
a heron with an 8 meter-long wingspan soaring gracefully. Then
it’s Giant Ant’s turn to make his entrance. Here, real plants
grow next to mechanical ones, creating a canopy for the animals…
and, you might be invited to climb in and control one of them!
The European Flight Test Centre This wind tunnel flight
simulator used to test all the amazing flying machines is unique
in the world. A machinist takes the control of a “flying flea”,
put on its seat belt, helmet and goggles, and flies at speeds of
more than 100 km/h.
The Carrousel des Mondes Marins
on the banks of the Loire river, across from the Musée Jules
Verne, the Carrousel des Mondes Marins seems to have been born
in the belly of Île de Nantes,
the city’s most maritime spot.
Adults and children are plunged into the same imaginary universe
of this incredible mechanical aquarium, which
you can discover at your own pace.
This authentic 360° theatre is also an incredible sculpture
dedicated to the sea. Visitors watch as strange and disturbing
marine creatures revolve in a huge structure built on three
levels. You will discover the sea like never before, from
seabeds to sea surface.
This giant carousel, almost 25 m (82 ft.) high and 22 m (72 ft.)
in diameter, is a reinvention of fairground art. Three carousels
are stacked in concrete lacework, crowned by a Big Top that is
itself adorned with pediments, and guarded by 16 fishermen from
all the world’s oceans.
In the seabeds, discover the Giant Crab, the Reverse Propulsion
Squid, the exploring Machine that dives deep into the machine
room, or the Bathyscaphe that climbs up the central mast… and
the latest arrival: the Box Fish. A total of 14 elements fixed
onto a rotating plateau.
In the abyss, on the second level, 6 elements hang 5 metres
above the seabeds: the Deep-Sea Lanternfish, the Manta Ray or
the Pirate fish… Only visitors over 1m35 (4.5 ft.) are accepted
aboard this level.
On the sea surface, on the third level, a rotating plateau,
protected by a Big Top, sweeps away boats, marine harnesses and
other flying Fish, a storm Boat, Nutshells and Jellyfish, in a
raging whirlpool of 24 big mechanical waves.
The Herons Tree
idea for The Herons Tree (Arbre aux Hérons) came about in 2002,
and it has since become the centrepiece
of the Machines de l’île’s project for the island of Nantes. It
is scheduled to open in 2021.
Given the project’s magnitude
and grandeur, the pressure was on the Machines de l’île de
Nantes to make headway on its feasibility right from the very
Since the elements of the Mondes Marins (Marine Worlds) that
lived in the Galerie des Machines for 4 years are now part of
the Carrousel, and that the project for the Tree is currently at
the heart of the Galerie, its creators have decided to take
stock of this work-in-progress.
Photo Franck Tombs
Photo Jean-Dominique Billaud
Photo Jean-Dominique Billaud