Millau viaduct and mountain

Millau viaduct and mountainPart of the Millau Viaduct
Today was the day we were to see the ‘big bridge’ the construction of which we had seen on the BBC programme, Top Gear, about a year earlier.

It had seemed to be a real achievement in construction. Apparently it had been designed and the building led by British architects and engineers but it was French engineers who had seen the possibility. It is now the longest and highest bridge in France.

At 08:30 we were in the queue at the bus stop in Montpelier having slept well at the hotel to which we had been directed. This was the only accommodation where we had problems with facilities and that was that the water pressure for us on the 14th floor was almost non-existent. It took almost 15mins to run a tepid bath.

The queue to take the bus to Millau was longer than I expected it to be but there was plenty of space and we left promptly at 09:00. It was a beautiful drive from Montpelier to Millau. We climbed up into some gentle mountain countryside which was lush and green. About 1¾ hours later we began the gentle descent down into the town of Millau. Here were the narrowest streets I have ever envisioned. How the bus driver manoeuvred the bus around these with all the town traffic to contend with was difficult to imagine but he did an excellent job and we arrived safely at the bus terminus in the centre of town right on 10:30. Excellent driving.

As we disembarked the bus the driver reminded those of us who were to return to Montpelier that the bus departed at 15:30 sharp and he could wait for no one! From there we enjoyed a delightful and relaxing day in a very lovely southern French town. Not many whom we know had even heard of it but we were really glad that we are fans of Top Gear and so had learnt about the bridge.

Weir in riverA weir in the river in Millau

We had the choice of sailing up the river on a small boat to the bridge or walking and seeing the bridge from further afar and the town in more detail. We chose the latter as the boat trip would have taken about almost 2 hours in total. Although the town is a tourist attraction, at the time that we were there, it was still developing with an increase in visitors so was not too crowded yet. We were glad that we chose to ‘walk the town as we found some very interesting side streets which had some very quaint little shops. We made our way across an old bridge at the other end of town from the bus terminus and from there took a lovely walk along the river bank.

Vicky on the brisgeVicky on the bridge over the river in Millay with the viaduct in the background

From there we had some excellent views of the new bridge as can be seen in the photo at the top of this article. We found a beautiful spot to sit and eat the rolls we had purchased for lunch and then gradually made our way back to wait for the bus, using a different route which was very touristy and not as attractive as we had enjoyed earlier. I do hope that now, 5 years later, the town has not been made into a tourist mecca with lots of plastic mementoes and tacky reminders of a town that was truly beautiful to visit. 

Old ArchwayAn old archway in Millau

Bridge over the roverThe bridge and weir in the river in Millau

We boarded the bus again and, as promised, departed promptly at 15:30. We were able to look back as we climbed out of the valley in which Millau is situated. We returned to Montpelier feeling that this was one of the best days of our holiday so far. Everything had gone so smoothly and we had seen so much. Our few days in France were coming to an end and we were leaving for Geneva, Switzerland in the morning. This time we had confirmed that we did not have to book seats and so returned to the hotel for another lukewarm bath and hoping to find some more interesting place than McDonalds for supper.

This also means that I have completed Day 17 of the 30 Day Challenge