The highlight of our visit to Nantes was standing next to the Great Elephant as it set off for one its walks around the former dock yards. The 45-tonne steel and wood sculpture is part of the Machines de L’Île creations. At the centre is the workshop where engineer-artists create mechanical creatures that replicate real animal movements. The concept is that the creatures escape from the workshop to create the exhibits around the dockyard site.

I find the whole place a wonderful combination of humour, heart, engineering, spectacle and wonder and reverence for creatures big and small. Definitely worth a 3 star engineering detour.