Adventures and misadventures in France.

Posts tagged ‘animals’

Machines de l’Ile


The Machines de l’Ile is a mechanical art exposition based in Nantes. Their whimsical attractions are mostly plant and animal machines inspired by the works of Leonardo DaVinci and Jules Verne.

The Elephant

The Carousel of Marine Worlds

The Heron Tree

Set to open in 2019, the Arbre aux Herons is still in the conceptual phase, but it’s going to be a towering feat of engineering and design measuring 50 meters across and 45 meters high. The structure will be an immense tree-shaped garden, include moving animal machines large enough to carry people throughout the branches, a bar, and swinging herons circling above. The creators have many of their preliminary designs on display including scale models of the tree, prototypes of the animals, a greenhouse testing the durability of various plants, and a single 3-story “branch” walkway.

Domaine de la Petite Couère

A couple weeks ago, Max and I were itching for a weekend outing. Max offered that he knew the BEST place that he adored visiting with his parents as a kid. He described the reconstructed farming village, vintage car museum, miniature train shuttle to carry you throughout the park, and all the cool and bizarre animals you could play with!

Based on this description, I was already picturing a Sturbridge Village/Heritage Plantation hybrid, plus a zoo!

Two hours later, we arrived at what appeared to be the creation of an eccentric hoarder of both antiques and animals. We quickly met a man of very few teeth, who directed us to the car museum (museum hereby meaning barns of decaying farm equipment and vehicles). The most impressive car was from 1913.

Next, we strolled through the reconstructed farming village, a self-guided tour where we were followed by an elderly employee to make sure we didn’t steal anything. We were able to see fashion, household equipment, and the general way of life of rural French farming towns (I think the exhibits mostly aimed around 1900). Unfortunately, there were no wide-eyed actors portraying the roles, but instead room upon room of creepy mannequins. Some of the rooms even featured misogynistic quotes to complement the experience.

The highlight of our visit was seeing the animals. We met an extremely friendly donkey, some napping pot-bellied pigs, viewed many cages of exotic birds (many of which we gave funny nicknames like David Bowie or Fluffy), and learned that cassowaries aren’t very friendly.

Then we discovered an enormous field enclosure, where we were free to roam with small deer and llamas. The animals quickly decided that we were intruders without tasty snacks and mostly ran away, though we were able to corner a few llamas in their llama home. While La Petite Couère was definitely was not what I had expected, we had a lot of fun mocking history and the countryside.

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