Immense and indestructible, or polished and clever? St Nazaire or Nantes in France?

St Nazaire – Immense and Indestructible

Today we were back at Saint Nazaire. I hadn’t anticipated returning this quickly but we enjoyed the energy of the place so much we had to discover more. We are drawn to the docks once more. We head for the submarine pens and find a route up to the roof. The roof structure is incredible. With very little bomb damage it is all intact. The views across the docks amazing.

We drag ourselves away and head for the town centre. As Saint Nazaire was bombed to the ground in the second world war so all the buildings are new and everywhere reconstruction continues. The energy is infectious. The contemporary art gallery is showing an exhibition by Toby Paterson, Quotidian Aspect. We take a look and are not surprised that all the paintings and sculptures concentrate on architecture.

View from the roof of the submarine pens at St Nazaire

View from the roof of the submarine pens at St Nazaire

We return to the roof of the submarine pens with a picnic and once again enjoy the views and marvel at the massive feat of engineering that could not be destroyed when everything around it crumbled.

I think you may have guessed… we like Saint Nazaire !

Nantes – Polished and Clever

For some time (years!!) we have been talking about visiting Les Machines de l’île in Nantes. It’s under an hour away so we head for Nantes.

We arrive at 2.00pm. The queue is circling round the building. Encouraged that so many people want to visit Les Machines de l’île, we join the queue. An hour passes and we reach the ticket office.

Machines de L’Ile

The Machines de l’Ile is an artistic project of artists of François Delarozière and Pierre Orefice. It is a blend of the invented worlds of Jules Verne, the mechanical universe of Leonardo da Vinci, and the industrial history of Nantes.

Majestic Heron in Nantes

Majestic Heron in Nantes

A heron with a 8-metre wingspan, carrying four passengers, flies over the great model of the Heron tree, planted in the middle of the gallery. Plants are in close contact with mechanical plants and animals of the canopy. You can be invited to take control of the inchworm or to fly over the model of the Heron Tree under the wings of the Heron.

You can also ride on the 12-metre high by 8-metre wide elephant. This mechanical elephant takes its passengers on an amazing journey on the Ile de Nantes.

The machines are very clever, the elephant very impressive, but it is all too polished, too clever. We prefer the  Univers du poète ferrailleur in Lizio.

Today we have seen two very different types of architecture / engineering. The immense indestructible submarine pens at St Nazaire and then the clever moving machines at Nantes, with tiny intricate details executed to perfection.

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