Jules Verne and Leonardo

I was watching the morning news show a while ago and they showed a giant spider, about two stories high, coming down the street of a French city. I was intrigued and when I heard that this event took place in Nantes, a city about two hours away from us, I did some research and found we could see same spider and an enormous elephant as well. These creatures are at a place, an old abandoned ship yard, called Les Machines de l’Ile. The creator says these creations are a combination of Jules Verne and the mechanical drawings of Leonardo di Vinci. The place is enormous and you can see other creations, a workshop and, of course, the spider and the elephant. For four days in July the spider actually walked around Nantes, but we missed that.

I’m not a fan of spiders but this was fascinating.

There were lots of people underneath the body of the spider, eight of which worked the legs. The whole thing was actually attached to a big tractor like machine at the rear.

“Poison” was sprayed as it passes by. There was interesting music playing too, kind of grand and creepy.

Here’s the elephant. As you can see, people can ride it, which we did. It was much more exciting from the ground watching it as it moved and sprayed water from the trunk. It was a slow ride up on top but fun to see the expressions of people down below.

The view of the head from behind while taking the ride. The elephant also did a trumpeting sound as it started. It scared a little girl beside us.

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Another view. It is made of lots of metal and wood and the ears were leather.

There was also a three story carrousel made of sea creatures. This was the crab at the first level. Very like creatures in Jules Verne stories. Great place for the young and the young at heart.

Videos I did while there:

la Cigale

Have you ever heard of a city in France called Nantes? I hadn’t either until we got our beach place here on the Atlantic coast and then I would see directional signs for Nantes as we drove here and there. I saw something on the morning news-which I am posting about next-and wanted to see it in person so off we went. It’s two hours from our place. The old section of Nantes limits the amount of traffic in the old section and we had to have a code to enter to get our car up to our hotel to park. Our hotel turned out to be really great-the Oceania-on a gorgeous square and we happened upon la Cigale when it was time for lunch just a few steps from our hotel. The food was okay but the interior was fabulous. I’m a huge fan of Art Nouveau and this was built in 1895 right when it was becoming popular.

The view from our hotel view. That’s a theatre to the right.

One of the ceilings.

The view into the dining room.

Lots of stained glass.

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Over the door into the kitchen.

I liked this portrait of a lady.

The symbol of the bistro. This place would have been torn down if it hadn’t been registered as a historic site.


The area we live in is known for its oysters. The island, Oleron, right across from us produces the most oysters in all of France. We have our own production going on in the village right next to us. We can see the oyster bed from our balcony.

They are doing some massive work on the walk along the beach so I don’t go in that direction much any more but on this day I decided to see how it was all going. The path takes you to the little village called les Bouchelers. As you can see the tide was out but there was enough water left for reflections.

It’s common to see tractors taking oyster boats out onto the bed exposed by the low tide. Apparently, oysters like exposure to air twice a day. This may have been a natural oyster site at one time but I imagine it is now a farm where oysters are “planted” and then cultivated.

Another view.

A boat up close. They pile the hue sacks of oysters up front and bring them to shore.

Seen in the village.

This way to the beach.

Nice way to finish the day.

Bastille Day

I’ve never made it to the Champ de Mars in front of the Eiffel Tower to watch the fireworks Paris has on Bastille Day. I tried watching from on top of Montmartre before but it was too far way to see much. Here at the beach, the fireworks are right in front of our building. Nothing like having a front row seat.

From our terrace. So pretty but it was really cold and windy. The fireworks were on July 13th which is typical in rural France. Bastille Day is on the 14th.

I watched the military parade in Paris on the next day. This was a group of children who stopped in front of the President and sang the French National anthem.

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Photo of TV screen. Paris can really do fireworks!

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It was windy so this didn’t look as good as it usually does. And then that night the attack in Nice happened. I have been on that street many times and Maurice was born in Nice. A father and son from Austin, Tx were killed. I don’t know what can be done about things like this. I just plan to try and enjoy each day and hope I don’t have to say this again

Beach Life

I’m back! Had some major hack problems but I think my son has fixed it all for me, bless his heart.

So, we made it back to our place at the beach and beach life continued.

We had sunsets when there were gray skies which seem to have been in abundance lately.

Every year our village has a fete with a different theme. Last year it was about Nursery Tales and characters. This year it was about Celtic life. There were all sorts of exhibits on the street and bagpipes and dancers in kilts everywhere.

A scene from Brittany all set up. I loved it.

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All posed for photos.

My view from my couch that evening. Beach life can be pretty great.

A City Garden

My planned post on another sad day for France. I’m speechless.

Many cities in France have a city garden called a Jardin des Plantes and la Rochelle has a lovely one.

You reach the garden by going down block after block of covered passages. La Rochelle is full of them.

It’s behind the Natural History Museum and is composed of “rooms” of gardens.

A pretty line of arbors.

Lily closeup.

One of the rooms had some mirrors.

There were flowers outside on the street too gowing on their own.