The artistic project

“Revealing the seaside resort of the 21st century”. The major stake of the project initiated with the Compagnie du Dragon is the economic and tourist development of the city of Calais. The Dragon, our animals created by La Machine in Nantes, promotes heritage and urban renewal and shifts Calais from the industrial era to culture and art.

A mechanical bestiary, in permanent representation

Calais has always been a border town crossed by thousands of people, travellers, sailors, tourists, with the sea as a horizon, bringing with it both hope and the unknown. In view of its past and present, Calais, more than any other city, necessarily raises the question of the relevance of the presence of these city machines. The shows they create take place in the public space, they are free, open to all and seek to transform the inhabitants’ view of their own city. They are rooted in reality, the scenes are played out in the places where people live, and especially where they are least expected.

In more concrete terms, the project supports and accompanies the city’s urban renewal and ultimately consists of a collection of of ten city machines in motion. Although independent in their functioning, their movement around the urban space makes it possible to demonstrate the links between the various districts. The idea is to offer residents and tourists alike a harmonious and pleasant living environment..

The Calais Dragon and the Sentinel Iguana have taken up residence on the waterfront. They will be joined by the Travelling Monitor Lizards at the Dombunker, the Iguana family at Fort Nieulay and the Great Iguana at the Saint-Pierre district. Each of the machines moves through the urban space and interacts with its environment: the street furniture, the traffic, the passers-by, thereby creating a free and permanent daily show.

It is this contrast that creates the power behind these machines. We claim the surprise, the upheaval of the non-captive spectator who becomes an audience on a street corner. We are addressing a street audience rather than a theatre audience. This art generates an emotion in the public space that unites us and encourages exchange.

 François Delarozière, Artistic director at Compagnie La Machine

What is a city machine?

Through each of these living pieces of architecture it becomes possible to dream the cities of tomorrow and thereby transform the way we look at the city. They are truly colossal creatures, a kind of mobile belvedere that offers a different view of the public space. Visible to all, and placed in the everyday environment of those who come across them, these living sculptures transcend and transform our perception of the city. This form of performance incorporates architecture into theatrical writing, thereby becoming a formidable instrument of cultural emancipation. Access to culture in the street can play a role in encouraging the emergence of skills, the development of individual self-esteem and of one’s city. These wooden and metal creations are therefore perfectly integrated into the urban fabric of Calais. The city is a vast playground of moving artistic objects. .

This clever mix creates a spark in the viewer’s eye, allowing them to give their imagination free rein. Whether on board the machine or as an attentive observer on the ground, everyone can study the movements, understand the mechanisms laid bare before their eyes, or simply let themselves be carried away by the emotion and theatricality of the moment..

Calais, a seaside city between history and renewal

The Calaisis is an area rich in tradition, landscape and history. Living in a city by the sea has something extra and inexplicable to it that often makes everyday life sweeter and with more contrasts: the wisdom of the skyline, the strength of the elements. The urban history of the city of Calais is very closely linked to the sea, and today it is on its large beach and in the seafront district that the destiny of a long-awaited renewal and change of image is being played out. Reverse the paradigm: radiate, become unique and showcase its qualities, confirm that Calais is a city to live in, to visit and to love. Calais wants to bring together three forces which are culture, leisure and sport and forge its identity to be recognized as a major living space nationally and internationally, to be a symbol, a showcase for the city of tomorrow.

The project has many goals. The main challenge is to develop tourism and the economy of the city by establishing a coherent link and a natural articulation between the projects taking place today and a unique artistic story. To do this, the Compagnie La Machine’s project must showcase the seaside resort of the 21st century by enhancing its heritage and its landscapes, and by moving Calais from the industrial era to the cultural era. It will put the city on the tourist map of northern Europe by capturing the millions of travellers who pass through Calais each year. 



Ready for an exceptional journey? Book your trip aboard the Calais Dragon, an unusual outing on the Opal Coast, to the rhythm of this exceptional animal! Stroll on the panoramic terrace built on its back and discover the new Calais seafront !  

Buy tickets online