What an amazing place! We spent several hours looking around the site, which comprises three main attractions. The galleries and workshops contain models and ideas for previous work or new constructions. Some of these are demonstrated with help from visitors, which adds to the fun.
The best part (in my view) was a ride on the huge mechanical elephant. Fifty people at a time are carried inside and on its back, for a 25-minute ride around the site. It's best to book the ride on this as early as possible in the day, as numbers are limited. The elephant itself is three time life-size, and built around a metal frame. The pneumatic systems that move the legs, head, and trunk are all visible inside the elephant, and this adds to the trip. My children especially enjoyed the operator squirting water from the trunk over the nearby crowds of spectators, and the air-operated trumpeting sounds!
The last part of the visit is the carousel. This is actually a triple-decker ride, representing the sea. The lowest level has submarines, squids, and other deep-sea fish, all of which can be ridden in, and which have controls that operate limbs and other parts during the ride. The middle and upper levels represent the higher levels of the sea and the surface, with different animals and boats to ride in/on. Children under 1.35 m cannot ride on the middle level, but can on both other levels. Our entrance covered two rides.
The Machines is not cheap, if visiting all three areas. However, there is a small discount for the three. If time or money preclude this, the Elephant and Carousel would be my recommendations. The site has a small café, but otherwise bring a picnic. The centre of Nantes is a walk of over 15 minutes, which after visiting all the attractions on a hot day was a bit too far for my children.
This is a great day out!
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