I must say, Les Machines de L’Île was possibly the coolest place I’ve ever seen. Not only does it appeal to people of all ages, it really finds inventive, next-level activities that all family members can participate in. It was so cool to see all the automatonic creatures come to life right in front of our eyes!
Although the tour was in French, no further interpretations were needed to understand the complexity and intricacy of the life sized (and larger!) recreations of the simplest to most marvelous animals around us. Creatures ranged from interactive, kid-controlled caterpillars, to gigantic spiders that tower high above your head with legs still touching the ground. This interactive imagination park is home to wonders both re-imagined and unimaginable. You can absolutely spend the better part of your day here!
Oh! Might I add, park features sub-attractions, like the Gallery and the Workshop, where craftspeople build in front of visitors‘ eyes everyday! In addition to Le Grand Elephant, there is also Carrousel des Monds Marins that is three stories high and “home” to many wonderful creatures of the sea, all of which are interactive!
OK, so I put Nantes in our trip itinerary not because of its historic significance along the Loire River, nor because of its recent, tragic Cathedral Fire but entirely because of the pictures and tales I had learned about its Machines de L’Ile.
This Jules Verne adventure park—part homage to architecture, part celebration of automaton, part machine-meets-art—was our sole raison d’être. And in my opinion, it exceeded any other reason for being there.
We spent 4 hours here, 2 visiting the Grand Elephant and the galleries for the new 2023 installation of The Heron Tree and then another two touring the workshop and the Carousel de Mondes de Marines. I do not exaggerate when I say it was difficult to decipher whether child or parent enjoyed the magic of this park more.
We rented the 1€/hour city bikes and toured what we could of the former ship building island, but our time did not leave us with enough to also visit the Jules Verne Museum just across the bridge. Given the chance to go again, I would make this a two-fer: Machines de L’Ile folowed by the Museum or vice versa. Regardless, there were no regrets about THIS detour.