Le Dragon de Calais is, until now, the latest urban machine built by La Compagnie de la Machine, a French artistic association specialized in street animations using gigantic animatronics machines. Ordered by the city of Calais, in the North of France, the Dragon takes place in an urban project that will include other mechanical animals. The Dragon is owned by Calais and is operated by a public company specifically created to this purpose, La Compagnie du Dragon. The next animals to take place there are the Sentinel Iguana, which will be installed in the Fort Risban near the Dragon’s lair.
The Dragon has been delivered in late 2019 to the city. On 31 October 2019, the Dragon appeared on Calais’ beach, stranded and sleeping. The next day, a big inaugural event happened in the city. You can see a recording here.
The event has been written by La Machine and tells the story of mythic creatures living in deep closed ground galeries. But, because of our activities and during recent civil engineering in Calais, a breach has opened and the Dragon came out from there. After this, the Dragon has been modified to include a balcony on its back, capable to take up to 50 persons on board and taking them to a trip in the city. The balcony access is made through the tail which hides a staircase.
The Dragon is one of the biggest Machine the company made. It measures 25m length and 10 to 15 meters tall. It weights 72 tons (for comparison, the Minotaur of Toulouse heights 14m for 13m length and weights 47t). The Dragon’s skin is made of decorated wood with an incredibly detailed and precise sculpting work. It can use various animations, its eyes can open and close, its tongue is very detailed, it can breath, spit water and even fire, and some smoke came out from its nose. And of course, it can roar. The Dragon is built above an hybrid-propulsion vehicle based on a crane frame that can drive up to 4km/h.
I’ve visited it in January 2020. The pictures of this articles are showing the Dragon slowly awakening as they do each day before opening the service.