You first drive to Creissels to catch a small boat that will take you down the Tarn River and underneath the impressive bridge. The boats are very small metal fishing boats so you have to make a reservation to get a seat. They run more boats in high season, but they operate from April to October. Depending on how high the river, it can be quite exciting.
We were off season so managed to get a same-day reservation. We had lunch while we waited and that was a pleasant experience. We used Bateliers du Viaduc and bought our ticket at their booth and followed directions down to the river where there are comfy chairs to wait for your little boat.
They board you and you start off down the river. It is a lovely trip. We saw all manner of waterfowl including swans, ducks and grey herons. There were fisherman who waved to us and once past the bridge there is the lovely Plus Beau Village of Peyre sitting on the opposite shore. Great photo op.
You are deposited on shore and a truck magically appears; they hoist the boat out of the water onto the truck and then you are invited onto a passenger van for the trip back to Creissels. It is an amazing experience on many levels.
Please check the following web site for more photos and information about the bridge. It is truly a wonder of the world. The Viaduct de Millau
This toll bridge, slung across the wide Tarn Valley to link the Causse du Larzac and Causse Rouge, takes the breath away. Designed by the British architect Sir Norman Foster, it’s true work of industrial art and an amazing feat of engineering. Only 7 pylons, hollow and seemingly slim as needles, support 2.5km of four-lane motorway. Rising above the valley bottom, it ranks among the tallest Road bridges in the world.
I didn’t Have chance to visit Millau city, with my tight schedule of my trip, so just can admired this city from far away. But one day Hope have a chance to transit in this city.
Millau (pronounced mee-yo) squeezes between the Causse Noir and Causse du Larzac at the confluence of the Rivers Tarn and Dourbie. Tough falling just over the border into the Midi-Pyrénées Département of Aveyron, it’ tied to Languedoc historically and culturally. Millau famous within France for glove-making.
Perched up on the plateau area of Lozère is the small town of Salles-Curan. It's not particularly memorable but we stopped by for something to eat and went for a wander in the older back streets of the town. The pictures show something of what we found. The window box displays were clearly one of the owner's pleasures.
Our reason for going over to the area was to see if we could go sailing on the man-made Lac de Pareloup. We succeeded in hiring a catamaran and under the guidance of our captain ( a Maths student on vacation) we were able to do all the cool stuff like leaning out over the side and jibing - whatever that is. Anyway we all enjoyed it. We hired the boat and guide for an hour, no booking required, and it cost us Euros 80.
On the road out west from Millau towards Peyre you will pass directly underneath the Viaduct. There is a Museum/exhibition centre located very near to the main column. It was quite busy when we stopped by and we decided we didn't want to pay the extra entrance fee but it would be good to do on a rainy day. You can get some good photos of the bridge from here.
There are very many canoe agencies along the River Tarn so just visit the local Tourist information office and they will happily put you in touch with one of the organisations. We chose to do the full day starting just up river from Ste Enimie. It's such a beautiful gorge that we hadn't tired of it when we had completed more or less the same trip a few years earlier.
There are always loads of great stopping off points where you can haul up the boat onto the shingle and go for a swim. There are not so many places to stop for a coffee or a proper 'sit down' but St Chely du Tarn is a good one if you want to have a break from paddling.
Try your hand at Parapente. Millau is a good place for novices to do this. We found a number of organisations that offer a tandem opportunity for beginners. Basically an experienced pilot does all the work and the novice sits in a big pouch below the pilot. My wife and my daughter both wanted to do it and so we booked for an afternoon flight - it lasted only about 20 minutes.
At about £50 each it's not a cheap activity which is why I didn't do it - but next time it will be my turn! For your money you get taken up in the van, kitted out and launched. During the flight the pilot has a camera on a pole and encourages you to look up so that you can have your photo taken midflight. My wife felt this was a little annoying but my easygoing daughter didn't mind.
Both landed safely and both of them really enjoyed the trip though I think it's interesting that neither have said they have a burning desire to repeat the experience. Maybe it's one of those seen it, done it; what's next experiences?
At the end each flier is given a certificate and encouraged to buy a CD of the pictures taken during the flight. We didnt indulge in this. I'd got a few photos and that was enough to record the event.
There is no substitute for seeing it in person. NONE of the photos or video we looked at in preparation for the visit prepared us for the visual impact of this engineering marvel. Get the list of view points from the 'Air' and visit each and every one. At night, it something surrealistic, extraterrestrial.
This photo, taken on May 21st 2004 should be one of the last of the viaduct before its completion on May 28th. However, though the road way will be complete at this date, it will not open to traffic before December 17th 2004. For more, look at Ouverture viaduc and at Viaduc de Millau
This close up, allows to better see how the Millau viaduct compare with the Eiffel tower, in blue. The top platform (3rd level) of the Tour Eiffel is several meters lower than the roadway of the Millau viaduct. The highest structure (antenna) of the Tour Eiffel is much lower than the highest superstructure of the Millau viaduct.
It is hard to believe that on top of pillar number 2 (the highest), a tennis court could be set up ! Though, this is true !
But who would want to play tennis 270 meters above the ground, especially if the players have to collect themselves the balls going out of the court ?
The road itself, 32m wide, is amazingly thin.
It is a ribbon of steel of only 14 mm thickness, that will be covered by three successive layers, the top one being 60 mm of macadam coating. It has to fulfill with very harsh conditions : the temperature will extend from -35°c to +45°C, inducing a possible dilatation of 2.2 m on the whole length ! The coating must be smooth enough to deal with these movements and solid enough to resist to the heavy load of trucks.
Two grey concrete pillars sustain each span. During the building process, an intermediate red iron pillar has been added, that will be removed once the definitive stays (shrouds ?) will be set. That can be seen on the diagrams shown on another tip.
When you are under the Millau viaduct, you begin to realize that it is really huge, but to what extent is difficult to evaluate. Each span is built at ground level, off the viaduct, and slowly shifted to the place where it will go. This handling, though often used in bridge building, needs a very high level technology, as it had never been used at those heights and on such distances.
Hard to believe either that the roadway (270 m) is just a little lower than the Eiffel tower (320 m) but the top stays higher (343 m).
Brussels atomium, Madrid Escorial, London Big Ben, Gizeh pyramids and Mont Saint-Michel are shown on this diagram together with the Eiffel tower.
The higher pile is P2 with 245m, P3 is only 230m. The lowest is P7 with 77m.