A good night’s sleep and a nice shower and we were ready for our first full day of exploring. Today’s plan was to explore the Isle of the Machines.
So to really understand this area, you have to think science and imagination: Jules Verne meets Dr Seuss. I can’t believe I’m gonna say this, but you also need to throw in some children to really make it fun. Their reactions made it even more fun from an adult standpoint.
The walk over took about twenty minutes. The city was fairly busy – lots of people heading to work or school. The Loire River was brown and muddy from the rains to the east of us. Luckily, they passed us by and we have nice weather.
The island was once the center of shipbuilding in Nantes. When the industry died out, many jobs were lost and the area declined. About twenty years ago, some people got together and decided to re-purpose the buildings and make the area vibrant. The island now has a few attractions and some nice restaurants and parklands.
Our visitation target was Les Machines de L’ile. It is an ecological experience without the boring stuff. They have created mechanical bugs and birds that are hands-on experiences for children or maybe small adults. (I didn’t qualify!)
In addition to the little critters, they also created a forty foot tall, forty five ton elephant that is the main attraction of the machine creatures. Whether you go for a ride (we did) or just watch as it goes by, you see nothing but smiles. Since it also trumpets as it walks and sprays water, you can guess how much the kids like it. I hope the pictures give you some sense of the sheer size of the mighty pachyderm.
The other main attraction is a three level carrousel inspired by Jules Verne and deep sea creatures. This is not your typical horses and tigers, this is octopuses, crabs, fish, sea horses and even a bathysphere. Each of the rides has levers and handles to push and turn to make the creatures move and “come alive”.
Very interesting, very cost friendly and very educational.
Afterwards, we walked back to the hotel and relaxed for a little while before dinner. We actually both fell asleep for a couple hours. I guess we’re not used to the fresh air and walking around or maybe there was still a little bit of jet lag.
Newly refreshed, we cleaned up for dinner. Tonight we are going to a place called “La Souris D’Agneau” or “The Lamb Shank” for us English speakers. Since we both like lamb, this sounded like a winner to us. Others complained that they didn’t have enough selection on the menu, I say: “Don’t complain, just don’t go.” D’uh!
Anyway, we had a great time. We had reservations at 8:00 pm and were the first ones there. That provided us with the owner’s undivided attention and a little more TLC. He only spoke a little English and we’ve already heard about my French, so it was interesting to go back and forth and both know what each other wanted or praised.
The meal was outstanding. We started with our Kir Royal as usual and a house made duck pâté that was stuffed into a fig. It was absolutely the best pâté we have ever had, hands down! Our main course was the lamb shanks. The lamb is slow cooked for many hours and literally was so tender you didn’t need a knife. It was plated with roasted potatoes, that when you ‘tres bon’ them, you get a second plate of them with a big smile from the owner. We also enjoyed a bottle of red Chinon wine that paired perfectly with our meals. All in all it was a wonderful meal, that left us full, though I did have chocolate mousse for dessert – I couldn’t help myself; I love chocolate mousse.
So after our meal, we took a pleasant stroll back to the hotel. Well, to be honest, I tapped ‘drive’ in the directions when we were checking them, so we walked twice as far as necessary to get back to the hotel. But it was still a lovely night.
Stopped for a nightcap at the hotel bar and met the bartender, Alexandra. As it was not busy, we were able to sit and chat for a while about everything under the sun. Such a nice person, with a great background of travel and adventure. And a new convert to the “The Botanist” Gin.
After a delightful chat, it was bedtime. Much more to see tomorrow.