Steampunkery Marvels

 

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jfringmaster-it-intro has been described as a park of magical zoological encounters from the imaginations of Jules Verne mixed with the mechanized creations of Leonardo da Vinci animated on the grounds and shipyards of Nantes’ 19th century maritime industry. I have to agree. The Machines of the Isle of Nantes, in western France are marvels to behold and will certainly be part of my next European visit.

The theme park has six separate sites and spectacles born from creators François Delarozière and Pierre Orefice. Stepping into the park returns you to a capsule of time where dreams and fantasies abound and “impossible” meant only Vernesque opportunity. As we begin our tour of Les Machines de l’île, enjoy the musical accompaniment below of Balayeurs Du Désert. Simply click the play button. They frequently provide the music for La Machine Productions, Delarozière’s theatrical company.

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The Grand Éléphant

victorian-t-introhis four-story mechanical mammoth ushers visitors to and from the craftsmen’s warehouse and the park’s Carousel. Getting onto the great Elephant’s decked back under the ivory-colored elliptic umbrella, it is impossible to overlook the ornate hand-carved woodwork which make its skin. Descend into the Elephant’s torso and belly and you are surrounded by pneumatic switches clattering to-and-fro across a network of cables and tubes (the heart) setting the beast in motion. During every journey the trunk blows water over entranced spectators and laughing children followed by trumpets calling and warning — with the help of dials, pipes, horns, and clever hands of its operator — who and what is coming.

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The Galerie des Machines

victorian-u-intronderneath the large hangers lies a tropical garden called La Galerie des Machines. Here with a handtouch or move of levers various large reptiles, sea creatures, and insects come alive. There is a giant ant, sea turtle, caterpillar, crab, a ferocious anglerfish, enormous spider, serpent, and up above a wall-to-wall giant heron flying visitors in wicker-baskets from one end of the hanger to the other. Pay close attention to all the botanical plants because little distinguishes the organic from the mechanical until they catch you by surprise!

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The Arbre aux Hérons

victorian-p-introrojected to be complete in 2021 is the budding Arbre aux Hérons, or Heron Tree. This magnificent tree will extend a full 35-meters in height, 50-meters in diameter, with branches 20-meters long providing a canopy over the Gift Shop and Café below. When complete, visitors will be able to take circular flights underneath the two heron’s wings above the tree branches. Already the tree carries a variety of real plants on each finished limbs and visitors can walk atop branches reaching the bar and shop in multiple ways that would make even the Swiss Family Robinson green with envy.

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Carrousel des Mondes Marins

victorian-f-introurther outside on the grounds is the three-leveled carnival-like carousel for children under 12-years of age. The Carrousel des mondes Marins (Marine Worlds Carousel) exhibits an enchanting fauna of every oceanic creature imaginable. Rather than the traditional da-vinci-quotehorses, carriages, or teacups, children may choose rides inside or atop a mechanical aquarium of bizarre crabs, shrimp, an octopus, fish such as a puffer fish, strange serpents and sea turtles. All the moving parts are enough to entrance and captivate your kids for minutes on end. On the very top of the Carousel are ornate pediments and 16 fishermen guarding the world’s precious oceans. The seabed, the abyss, and the ocean surface makeup the three-tiered marine life. A giant crab, reverse propulsion squid, a Nautilus-like diving Machine exploring the depths, the Bathyscaphe which climbs up and down the central mast, and the newest arrival the Boxy Fish comprise part of The Seabed’s 14 moving elements. Along The Abyss (middle level) one will discover the Manta Ray, Pirate-fish, and Deep-sea Lanternfish among three other creatures. Up on the Ocean Surface are the swaying boats, harnessed Flying fish, a storm boat, Nutshells and Jellyfish all swimming within a whirlpool of 24 mechanical waves.

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Workshop of the Company La Machine

victorian-c-introlimbing to the top floor of the varied hangers, visitors can gaze down upon the work areas and laboratories of Company La Machine, glimpsing the park’s future spectacles. Watching these fantastic craftsmen ply their trade you see the unbelievable care and detail that goes into every new and upcoming creature. From François Delarozière’s mind, to these worker’s hands and tools, come the mechanical inventions of Da Vinci and Verne reincarnated. New wacky unusual machines and rides are designed and fabricated every year keeping the theme park virtually newfangled.

“At the heart of the artistic process of the company La Machine, motion is interpreted as a language, as a source of emotion. Through each of its living architectures, it is about dreaming tomorrow’s cities and transforming the look we take at our cities.”
— François Delarozière

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The Café de la Branche

victorian-o-introne of the delights of the park is the total freedom to explore every site and nook at your own pace. The Café de la Branche offers different beverages, snacks, sandwiches, and tasty pastries to enjoy underneath The Heron Tree’s foliage. Your appetite can be appeased with the chef’s Back From the Market menu which includes a choice of fish, a traditional dish or grilled meat, as well as homemade pies. Over weekends, depending on the season, patrons can enjoy: homemade quiche, fresh vegetable soup, meal-sized salads, as well as homemade sandwiches. Hot dogs and panini sandwiches are available in the summer. For a four o’clock coffee break, muffins, brownies, shortbread, or donuts are on the menu. Regional and locally crafted specialities of beer, wines, and ciders can be purchased too.

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The Gift-shop is as thoughtfully laid out for visitors as the park. There are various specialized spaces for the passionate reader to get lost in their pages. In the bookshop, a variety of book themes covering oceanic and nature conservation, animal-life, architecture and development ideas for sustainable protective energy, the art of gardening orchids and flowers, historical machines used in theatre and film, and choices of travel adventures and novels. There is also a children’s section inspiring their taste for art, drawing books, many of them exclusively original Les Machines de l’ile creations. You and or your family could easily lose 2-3 hours in this magnificent theme park. If traveling western France, do not miss this Steampunk gem.

For further information about event dates, times, hours of operation, prices, group-rates and contact info, visit the Les Machines de l’ile website.

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37 thoughts on “Steampunkery Marvels

    • It IS FABULOUSLY GRAND isn’t it!? 😀 Yes, thought the music selections were a nice touch myself. I particularly love the 1st song: Final. I wish they had a much longer version.

      I do tend to find myself in some of the most peculiar precarious situations with people, places, and things, huh? Hahaha! 😉

      Liked by 2 people

  1. “so when I saw this theme park, I went BONKERS!!!” Did anyone notice the difference to your every day demeanour? Hahahahaha. Just pulling your mechanical leg Professor.

    It’s an exceptional spectacle, and I just have to go. I have to go there. I hope it stays open long enough for esme to collect the pennies needed, because she HAS TO GO.

    And I love it all, just like you do, but the huge elephant has the edge because it reminds me of the original giant elephant at . . . The Moulin Rouge! This one –

    http://www.messynessychic.com/2015/09/18/the-forgotten-elephant-of-the-moulin-rouge-garden-party/

    And then the one in the film, a film I know we both love to death and back. *nods*
    Great post. As I said, I had read it already all sneaky-like in my emails. I do that, keep up with people as best I can, but don’t always get to the actual post, which won’t do, for how else will they know?! Indeed.

    – esme of Cloud fame dancing on top of the elephant (no euphamism)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh my lovely Madame Esme! You talk to me (comment) like you KNOW ME! My, my, the trouble and antics you and I could find ourselves in at Les Machines d’Lile, huh? 😉

      Moulin Rouge! Yes, you will be the alluring Satine and I will be Christian, of course, “until my dying days!” HAH! I will come calling for you in my beastial machine which has a VERY LARGE…

      TRUNK! 😈

      Liked by 2 people

  2. That looks incredible! For some reason the elephant is giving me Moulin Rouge vibes but I just love the imagination that’s gone into every part of this. So cool. I’m adding this to my list of places to go!

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    • I feel I could spend an entire day and evening lost in this place, especially with someone(s) who deeply appreciate the fantasy, the unimaginably imaginable in motion! I know this place touches a genetic part of me stretching back to my paternal roots in Centre-Val de Loire and Pays de la Loire. A home away from home. 🙂

      So Quinn, what is at the TOP of your list of places to go? Where is the next destination?

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      • Oh those two places are not one and the same… I think my next destination will be Mexico but that’s not certain. I might squeeze in a trip to Madrid, Spain before then. Madrid is my soul city and second home!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ahh, Madrid…your maternal family, yes?

          I love Mexico. Have been several times, naturally, being so close to me. My favorite place in Mexico was Puerto Vallarta. The villa we stayed at was utterly exquisite with the bathroom/tub connected outside to the swimming pool, overlooking the Pacific Coast. Breath-taking! ❤

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      • No, seriously, I thought about it, Professor. I could only immerse myself in the make-believe of it all if I wasn’t distracted by other peoples’ presence and their talking. When I’m in crowds they become ‘the thing’, if you know what I mean?

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        • Hmmm, very intriguing. People and their discussions absorb your attention? No matter the place, circumstances, subject, fashion, or time of day? 😉

          I think I’d like to do a clinical assessment on you my Friend! 😀

          Liked by 2 people

        • It’s alive things that capture my interest, Professor; do you see? There’s something extra added to awareness when life (whatever that is) is apparent — whether it be fauna, flora, or people. If you ask 100 people what their more vital, or, dare I say it, ‘transcendent’ experiences have been in life, then you typically get instances of birth and episodes out in nature. These are the times when we’re really ‘plugged in’, it seems; it’s life meeting the alive, rather than life meeting the inanimate. Does that add up? I think deep within us we’re cognisant of when we’re attending to the objectively inanimate, though curiosity may still be piqued — as when watching a film, or being at a theme park — and we may well enjoy the wonder or stimulation of it, so it’s not to dismiss such experiences.

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        • Ahh, I completely concur about, dare I repeat it, ‘transcendency’. 😉 The marrow of life, organic life my Friend! And I like very much your last half of your last sentence. Indeed, why not have all of BOTH worlds? Or perhaps all known and little-known worlds, yes?

          Liked by 2 people

        • P.S. I remember as a 9 or 10 year-old being taken to Stamford Bridge by my father — that was back when a capacity crowd was 72k not 46k as it is these days, and most were standing. The overwhelmingly indelible impression I was left with was of the crowd effect, not the game, which ostensibly was why everyone was there, of course. But no, it was the sweet smell of pipe smoke wafting, the clacking of wooden rattles, the sound of 50 or 60 thousand people saying “ooh!” involuntarily yet in unison; but more than that, it was that these accoutrements and exclamations were those of highly animated people, together acting as a giant organism, and it was that which was so captivating.

          Liked by 3 people

        • Mmmmmmm…yes. Once again I can completely relate! It should be no surprise to you Hariod as to how/why I CAN relate to this post-script. 🙂 My POV, my experience of those ‘crowds’ in large or massive stadiums (45k up to 200k) come from the stands as well as down on the field between the posts! An electric organic energy that will never be forgotten. Mmmm, a captivating “giant organism“… yes! Perfect description! ❤

          Liked by 3 people

        • So anyway, can you imagine wandering around your steampunk park at three in the morning; it’s pitch black and all you have gripped in your sweaty palm is the fading glow of your Maglite? How would it feel now to have that massive trunk dangling before you, unexpectedly spraying all over you? 😮

          Liked by 2 people

        • No Scottie, and you Professor, all three of us are naked, forbidden from making a sound, and entering the park from separate directions. Our task, as individuals, to find and mount the massive horned one, then spray the other two having seized control of its pendulous proboscis!

          Liked by 3 people

        • Wow I am in. What a great game and Idea. This could take several days not just one night. What fun you think of, you must be a very happy person and generous also. Hugs

          Liked by 3 people

        • I showed this to Ron and his reply was “No wonder Hariod is distracted by or in crowds“. He also mentioned something about me having ideas in my head my body couldn’t cover. He seemed to think my imagination was more versed than my ability is. I just wonder where he gets these strange ideas? 🙂 ( laughing teasingly ) Hugs

          Liked by 2 people

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