Friday, January 18, 2013

Les Machines de l'île

I was in Nantes last weekend to see Saracens play Racing Metro 92 in the Heineken Cup. More on that on another occasion.

While in the bar after the match on Saturday evening, I was talking to some other travelling supporters and mentioned that I intended to visit the castle the following morning, before catching my train home.
"Oh, don't do that," I was told "... go and see The Elephant".

Eh? Why would I want to go to the Zoo? A quick explanation followed and so just after nine o'clock on Sunday morning I headed off to Ile de Nantes to see the giant elephant which is possibly the main attraction of Les Machines de l'île.

The Machines of the Isle of Nantes project has been set up in a former run down shipyard area, a twenty minute walk from the city centre, partly I suspect simply to become a tourist destination in its own right.

First of all, the project is shut during 2013 from 7th January through to 15th February. From a practical perspective, this meant that I didn't pay anything to see a distinctly sleeping giant elephant, but also had the place pretty much to myself - I saw two other tourists wandering around and a solitary security guard sat near the elephant's rear end.

The elephant itself is an impressive beast, though during it's winter maintenance it did appear to have the mechanical equivalent of elephant snot coming out of it's trunk. Probably of slightly more interest and fun on a Summer's day rather than a foggy winter morning with everything locked up

The trip to see The Elephant helped fill the morning before I caught my train back to Paris. It wasn't a waste of time, but I suspect that a visit to Les Machines de l'île will be slightly more interesting when the site isn't closed for its winter maintenance period. For more ideas on things to do in Nantes, you could do worse than read this article from 2009.

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