Sitting at the top of the belfry of the town hall in Calais, a dragon weather vane indicates the direction of the wind. But was this a subtle warning about the arrival of the spectacular mechanical Dragon of Calais?
By choosing to create a dragon, François Delaroziere, director of the La Machine Company based in Nantes, is employing a universal emblem. Dragons can be found in all civilisations. They are often used as symbols of strength and associated with the elements of water, earth and fire. Dragons are seen as guardians.
More than simply an urban ‘project’, the Dragon is also a formidable way to bring fresh appeal to the city of Calais.
Hop on the dragon’s back!
Epic in size and crafted in steel and sculpted wood, with a motion inspired by that of reptiles, it is truly expressive and breathes fire, smoke and water in a variety of forms.
Smoke escapes from its body through around thirty vents while its eyes, eyelids, ears, mouth, tongue and fins all move.
He can lie down, stand up, run at up to 4km/h and flap its thick canvas wings. Passengers can step onto its back and onto a covered terrace via a staircase that runs along its tail.
Every day he wanders along the seafront, carrying up to 48 people on his back for a journey that lasts around 45 minutes.
The dragon then goes to rest at nightfall in his home installed on the seafront. This is a fabulous venue for encounters, meetings and conviviality for all visitors.
Other new animal arrivals
Several types of creatures inspired by dinosaurs will arrive after 2020 at different emblematic venues across Calais.
Each machine is linked to a place that has undergone a major transformation: The Dragon of Calais on the seafront and at Fort Risban, monitor lizards you can ride on at Le Dombuker, a family of iguanas at Fort Nieulay and the Great Iguana in the Saint Pierre quarter. Each of these machines will roam the city, sometimes bumping into one another, and some of them will be travelling along main streets.
More info: www.compagniedudragon.com
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Learn about the Calais Dragon
- Height: 10m to 15m
- Mechanisms: water, air, electricity, hydraulics
- Width: 5m to 17.5m, wings extended
- Materials: wood, metal, leather, canvas, copper
- Length: 25m
- Effects: breathing, smoke, flames, water jets, sound
- Weight: 72 tonnes
- Operation: 4 to 17 people (shows)
- Speed: 0 to 4km/h
Capacity: transports up to 48 people (temporarily limited to 19 people)