Saturday, May 28, 2011

Millau, home of the glorious viaduc

Those of you who know me know that I fell in love with the huge viaduct of Millau which spans the Tarn valley with elegance and at a height that makes one wonder; higher than the Eiffel tower.

As usual, Nick chose the scenic route so we came via the Tarn Gorge, quite lovely as you drive it low down and see little villages from across the river. The road dives under rocks and cliffs and is spectacular without being too scary.

Under a rock or two
A village across the river

We visited Millau in 2008, and so made it a stop on our way across France this time also. maybe people are right; you can never go back, not at least with quite the same experience. Despite having booked a room in the Chateau de Creissels with the viaduct view, this time we got a room with only a partial viaduct view. So no pictures out the window at all lights and times. We were simply told the room we had before was not available. Grrr!

Then the weather on our full day proved quite cloudy so the views were different and the photos also. Plus the glorious swathes of poppies that covered the hills nearby on the last visit were all gone, despite it still being poppy season.

Here are some scenes from the area on our stay. I was impressed with the rock formations around the hills, already in blocks just ready for building.

This is a natural landform
Bridges across the streams in the gorges
This is what the rock might be used for. A stone house and a lauze roof
Old mills abound too

On our day in Creissels and the day we left we also went a bit further afield and discovered the villages of the Knights Templar and Knights Hospitaller. These towns were fairly ruined but they have been restored. The nicest part is that people live in them again, maybe running a cafe or the bread oven, perhaps having a shop making wool clothes on a loom. Not cutesy “reliving the old times in costume” stuff, but respectfully bringing the towns back to life. The two towns were La Cavalerie and La Couvertiorade, each surrounded by large walls.

Village square, La cavalerie
La Couvertoiraderose
Gorgeous old rose. Roses are blooming everywhere
Interior of church

Ancient doorway with two alternative dates, 1460 and 1753

In Creissels a natural stream moves through the village, filling a pool on the way and providing a home for the swan. And there are poppies, just not the fields of them under the viaduct that we experienced last time.

millau-swan millau-poppies

Anyway, to return to the viaduct, one must make the best of what presents itself. So we have some moody, cloudy shots. And the bridge is still unbelievably massive and light at the same time. We did get some sunny shots the next day, so in no particular order, the Millau Viaduc.


Viaduct from the hotel garden


Nick’s graceful panorama

Cloudy lighting
Approach for the crossing
Black and white
Crossing the bridge (E6.40 thank you!)

The last two photos show the bridge crossing. I had jury-rigged Nick’s GPS holder with my small camera, rubber bands and band-aids,  and was all set to get a movie of the crossing with this contraption stuck on my window. Alas! for some reason it took pictures for all of two seconds. I must have pressed the button twice.

Next instalment: The beautiful pilgrim town of Conques.


  1. As always, great photos! I share your enthusiasm for both the Gorges and the marvelous viaduct. One a natural wonder, the other a man made one.

  2. Matt loves that viaduct. he went on and on about it one night and had to google it to explain it to me. Dont think you would ever see me going across that. :/

  3. Not scary to cross at all. You are on a big, wide road and can't see down. Plus you are so busy looking up at the superstructure. Glad you have time for reading now.

  4. Great blog, we stopped at Milau last year on the way to Spain, didnt really get a chance to look round. This year we may even drive over the bridge.