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Left: Futuroscope; right: giant elephant at the Island of the Machienes, Nantes; below: happy holiday makers In Nantes, you have the Les Machines de l’île, a fascinating experiment in the old dockyards which will have you riding on a 12 metre high mechanical elephant or a 4 metre ant and sailing round on a merry go round in a cranking, metal crustacean. The vision of two artists, the concept is described “as visualising a travel-throughtime world at the crossroads of the 'imaginary worlds' of Jules Verne and the mechanical universe of Leonardo da Vinci”. And that undoubtedly captures the spirit of your day here. Yet at the other end of the spectrum and just a couple of hour’s drive to the east is Futuroscope, with all that is modern and high tech. There’s a new water park too, ancient abbeys perched on marooned little islands and chateaux to explore in abundance. But despite the dozen or more major attractions in this area, it doesn’t feel busy. You’ll get a table without booking at lunch and your 2 hours will never be rushed. You’ll find history hand in hand with adventure, nature to suit every palate and activities for every generation and speed. I’ve visited this area in all seasons over the years and I don’t travel light. As often as not, I’m to be found to be travelling with three small children, two huge dogs, a couple of elderly parents and their small dog with mental health issues It’s a region therefore that has to satisfy everyone’s many demands (including my not infrequent need for solitude). And in all the many times that I’ve visited, I don’t remember it ever to have been found lacking. Each trip, it offers up something new and compelling, a different pace, a different atmosphere or challenge. With its Mediterranean micro climate and laid back pace, this year I explored Green Venice and the Marais Poitevin, La Rochelle and then Futuroscope for the first time, and once again, this little corner of France didn’t disappoint.
Key places of interest: Award wiinning and fabulous theme park: Puy du Fou.com One of the most popular theme parks in France: Futuroscope.com Indian Forest of Adventures: indian-forest-atlantique.com Huge fun at the Parc d’Adventure: parc-aventure-79.fr Magnificent, mesmerising Mechanical machines at Nantes: lesmachines-nantes.fr Tourist Office: www.vendee-tourism.co.uk/
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