Le Grand Eléphant. Les Machines de l’île. Nantes © Nautilus Nantes/LVAN
There’s no shortage of boat tours on the Loire River, but for an even more Instagrammable experience, ride a 40-foot mechanical elephant along the water at Les Machines de l’Île in Nantes. Open since 2007 in the town’s old shipyards, this engineering playground boggles the mind with attractions like the Carrousel des Mondes Marines (a massive carousel with sea creatures that move) and the Galeries des Machines (home to a giant mechanical spider and ant). The museum’s newest project, the $45 million Arbre aux Herons with 35 mechanical birds perched in a 115-foot tree, is scheduled to open in 2021.