The tallest bridge in the world
Southern France is best known for its glorious weather, picturesque villages, and fields upon fields of grape vines. Now, there’s another attraction – the Millau Viaduct.
The journey across the gorges of the Tarn River Valley was notoriously horrendous. Summer holiday traffic would jam the Paris to Spain route and a bridge was determined to be the best solution to unblock the inevitable bottleneck.
Opened in 2004, this 1.5 mile long bridge near Millau is said to save 30 minutes under normal conditions and up to 5 hours on especially popular summer weekends.
Measuring 1,125 feet above the base of the structure, even taller than the Eiffel Tower, the Millau Viaduct is the tallest bridge in the world. For lovers of architecture or architectural engineering, the Millau Viaduct is a must-see.
The best view of the viaduct is from the Aire de l’Aveyron service area off the A75 motorway, north of the bridge. There is a small viewing platform in the parking area, but to get the very best view climb the short but steep path to the top. (That’s where we were standing when we took this photo.)
Do not skip the official visitor center located at the base of the bridge on D992. Here you’ll find the requisite souvenir shop, along with several large illustrations of the bridge, dioramas, and a short yet fascinating film describing the design and construction of the bridge. The film runs continuously, rotating versions in French and English. But the best thing about visiting the official visitor center is the different perspective you get from here. Standing in the parking lot, underneath the bridge, you can truly appreciate the full height of the structure.