Nante is a city on the Loire River in Western France and has a long history as a port and industrial centre.

We particularly wanted to visit Les Machines de L’île, an amazing project being worked on by two men who have been involved in street theatre for over 20 years.

They have designed and built a Jules Vernes like invented world with Leonardo da Vinci types of mechanical creatures – all on the site of the former Shipyards that were closed in 1987 on the island in the centre of the river running through Nantes.

There are three main sections.

The giant elephant that goes out for a walk. This mechanical steel and wood creation can take 50 passengers on board.

The Gallery of Machines which is a space filled with a range of creatures built and animated by the workers and visitors. There are giant caterpillars, birds and a huge spider all with moveable parts.

The other section is a Carrousel of the Marine. This incredible sculpture carrousel is dedicated to the sea. Visitors can view the creatures or have a ride on the merry go round. It is built over three layers representing the layers of the ocean. There are some machines that go underground, giant squid, fish and crabs.

It is interesting to see the sketches and designs and be able to look into the workshop of the people working on these creations. What amazing imaginations and a wonderful use of a disused site in the middle of the city of Nantes.

We spent three days in Nantes, caught up on washing, tried to work out where we were going next, spent ages comparing ways to go to Spain and Morocco and finally booked flights but unfortunately they were double what they were a month ago!

Nantes tourist office produced a walkers guide for those who love art so that was fun. A lime green walking trail takes you through the city to view lots of quirky things. A giant bird and its eggs on the 32 floor of a tower with amazing views over the city, wired pink marble sculptures of toilet seats and wash basins, fossilised palm trees with figures hanging from them in one of the main squares.

A lady also stopped us in the street and told us to go and have a look at the local market which is only open on Sundays. We wandered around the seafood and fish stands and all the lovely cheeses and dried meats.

We visited the Jardin des Plantes a lovely garden with more creative installations. So much creativity everywhere you look. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to go to the museum of the arts. We will have to leave that until next time! We walked about 18km that day so we were looking forward to giving our legs a rest as we set of in the car heading along the coast to La Rochelle.