An astonishing mechanical bestiary in an urban oasis: discover the Animals of the Place and take control to bring them to life.

Napoleon's Egyptian Campaign (1798-1801) was a military campaign led by Bonaparte to seize Egypt and control the route to India.

It is also a true scientific and cultural expedition since the future emperor takes with him 167 scientists. 

Legend has it that in order to be able to observe the animals on the banks of the Nile, scientists had the idea of ​​building mechanical animals inside which they could hide and thus study the Egyptian fauna.

Faced with the hidden threat from England, these Animals were secretly brought to the future Napoleon-Vendée.

© David Fugere

A miraculous discovery

During the renovation of Place Napoléon in 2012-2013, mysterious wooden boxes bearing hieroglyphic inscriptions were discovered and revealed the majestic Nile crocodile and the perch. Subsequently, different boxes appeared in different districts of La Roche-sur-Yon. This mechanical bestiary was installed in 2013 in the basins of Place Napoléon.

A living place populated by extraordinary animals

The basins of Place Napoléon form a real ecosystem with specific flora and fauna. They operate in a closed circuit, without the supply of drinking water.

Living, the bodies of water ensure their own maintenance. They are fed by rainwater collected from the roofs of buildings around the square.

You can also see koi carp, dragonflies, moorhens and from time to time, a heron!

More than 30 flowers, plants and trees decorate the square: maples, palm trees, Virginia tulip trees, honey trees, lotuses, rushes, acanthus, marsh irises, water lilies... make this square in the heart of the city center of La Roche- sur-Yon a veritable green lung.

Unique in France

With four basins, Place Napoléon, designed by architect Alexandre Chemetoff, is the ideal place to stroll and rest. Unique in France, the Animals of the Place, straight out of the imagination of François Delarozière of the company "La Machine", have taken up residence in the basins of the place.

Manipulation desks

It's up to you to bring them to life! Take the controls, push, pull, lift the levers to see the otter stand on its hind legs or the crocodile reveal its forty sharp teeth. For the most facetious and lovers of water games, trigger superb sprays of water by activating the Nile pole, the hippopotamus, the toad or the dromedary!

So, all you have to do is push levers and operate joysticks to watch these mechanical creatures move! Do not hesitate any longer and give it a try!

Local vets

You will certainly meet them ... the local vets! Their main mission is to heal the wounds of Animals and to ensure that each of them has a good end-of-year medical examination. They will also explain how these funny animals work and will be happy to answer your questions. Veterinarians, divers, welders… they bring animals to life and evolve for the pleasure of all.

Animaux de la place
© David Fugere

In all, 13 animals await you in the basins of Place Napoléon:

  • The Sacred Ibis
  • Hippopotamus
  • The Crocodile
  • The Nile Perch
  • The 3 Frogs
  • The toad
  • The Owl Grand Duke
  • The Dromedary
  • The otter
  • The couple of pink flamingos

All these creatures are now part of the cultural heritage of La Roche-sur-Yon! They are just waiting for you and your little hands to get moving!