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Things to See in the Languedoc:   Historic Cities:   Millau and the New Millau Bridge

Millau's most famous feature is its new bridge. Information about the rest of Millau will follow, but here is some information about the bridge.

This bridge is the world's highest road bridge. Opened in January 2005, it spans the valley of the River Tarn, a 2.5 km wide gorge dividing two plateaux in France's rugged Massif Central. Part of the motorway from Paris to Barcelona, it enables motorists to drive through the sky, often above the clouds.

The Millau bridge crosses the Tarn valley at its lowest point, linking the causse du Larzac to the causse rouge. The bridge is within the perimeter of the Grands Causses regional natural park.

The bridge is the last link on the A75 autoroute, providing a continuous high-speed route from Paris through Clermont-Ferrand to Béziers. Many tourists heading to southern France and Spain follow this route because it is direct and mostly toll free. The A75 (la Méridienne) is a developmental project which will speed up and reduce the cost of car travel from Paris southwards, and it is free for the 340 km between Clermont-Ferrand and Béziers.

Today's weather and weather forecast for Millau, Languedoc, France. Click here for to open a website giving more information, in a new window Built in steel-and-concrete the bridge is more than 300m (984ft) high - taller than the Eiffel Tower. It floats 270 meters (891 feet) above the Tarn valley for a 2.5 kilometers (1.6 miles), its concrete and steel pillars soaring high above the morning fog.

The construction of the bridge began in December 2001, using innovative techniques. Norman Foster (Lord Foster), The architect, said his cable-stayed bridge was designed to have the "delicacy of a butterfly". Seven slender piers support the roadway, rising into graceful pylons bound to the bridge by what have been described as cobwebs of steel. It is the spectacular result of collaboration between architects and engineers

.The bridge has the optimum span between cable-stayed columns. It isdelicate, transparent, and uses the minimum material. Each of its sections spans 350 meters. The columns range in height from 75 meters to 235 meters - with the masts rising a further 90 meters above the road deck. To accommodate the expansion and contraction of the concrete deck, each column splits into two thinner, more flexible columns below the roadway, forming an A-frame above deck level. This structure creates a dramatic silhouette.

The Bridge has become a major tourist attraction in its own right and a source of pride for Millau, which believes many more tourists will come to admire one of theengineering wonders of the 21st Century. (Millau is best known outside France as the place where Jose Bové dismantled a McDonald's restaurant)

Built in three years at a cost of €394 million (£272 million), the bridge is not merely a gateway to the Riviera floating over what had been one of the nation's most notorious bottlenecks, but as an embodiment of Gallic flair, a stylish marriage of the functional and the aesthetic. President Jacques Chirac, who inaugurated it said: "It is a magnificent example, in the long and great French tradition, of audacious works of art, a tradition begun at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries by the great Gustave Eiffel. "The French people are rightly proud of the feats accomplished here - feats which speak for France. A modern France, an enterprising, successful France, a France which invests in its future." The project was financed privately by the French construction group Eiffage - the same group that built the Eiffel Tower. They financed the project in return for the right to collect receipts from a bridge toll for 75 years. The French government has the right to assume control of the bridge from 2044, if it proves extremely profitable.

An estimated 10,000 vehicles use it every day, rising to 25,000 per day at the height of summer.

Toll fees for motorists when it opened were 4.90 euros ($6.50) in winter and 6.50 euros ($8.62) in summer. Lorries (US trucks) pay 24.30 euros ($32.24) year-round.

    Statistics
  • Cost: 394m euros (£272m; $524m)
  • Statistics: Length: 2.5 km
  • Road Height: 280 m
  • Highest point: 343m (1,125ft)
  • Weight: about 36,000 tonnes
  • Start of Construction: 16 October 2001
  • Completion Date: January 2005
  • Architectural Design: Foster and Partners
  • Design Concept: SETRA
  • Structural Engineering: EEG Simecsol and Greisch
  • Contractor: Eiffage Construction
  • Co-Contractor: Eiffel Construction
  • Fabricator: Freyssinet (stay cables)
  • Launching Enerpac
  • Formwork: PERI Formwork and Scaffolding

 

Car Hire

Click on the following link for a good route from Paris to the Languedoc which passes over the new Millau BridgeArrow

 

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Millau and the new Millau Bridge