Around France in seven engineering marvels

Whether they are ancient or modern, l’Hexagone boasts a fine array of man-made wonders. Samantha David presents a well-engineered selection.

1. Concorde

It may not be in the air, but two of them can still be visited (free) at the Musée de l’Air et de l’Espace, on the northern outskirts of Paris, and for €9 you can even explore the interiors.

The Anglo-French turbo-powered jets operated from 1976-2003, with a maximum speed of 2,180km/h (twice the speed of sound) and seated 92-128 passengers. Concorde was jointly developed and manufactured by Sud Aviation (later Aérospatiale) and the British Aircraft Corporation (BAC) under an Anglo-French treaty.

A total 20 aircraft were built, including six prototypes and development aircraft. In 1997, a return ticket from London to New York cost around US$8,000 about 30 times the price of usual airline ticket.

The museum also runs simulator sessions teaching people how to pilot a commercial airliner, or even how to land the lunar module – but book this online well in advance as the sessions fill up quickly.

The museum has a vast array of historic flying machines too, including a pedal car with two sets of wings, and a selection of French prototypes. There is even a rocket in the car park and a hall ...

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