MILLAU VIADUCT over the TARN VALLEY .......
way to Spain and Languedoc, via France's A75 motorway.
Opened in 2004, Norman Foster's magnificent motorway bridge
at Millau has established itself as one of the must-see
modern monuments in France. It is the
highest multi-span bridge (the deck is 900 ft above the valley
floor at its
the longest suspended bridge in the world, and an engineering
the world, worth the visit.
The viaduct carries the A75 Clermont-Ferrand to Béziers motorway
across the Tarn valley. The motorway is free, but there is a toll
charge for crossing the viaduct.
toll booths are located a couple of kilometres north of the viaduct;
just before the northern end of the viaduct, there is a large
motorway rest area, offering spectacular views of the viaduct,
as a visitor centre with information on the bridge and its building.
For the best photo opportunities, arrive at the bridge shortly after
sunrise in the Autumn, when the bridge frequently floats above the
overnight mists that have formed in the valley below.
Information on the Millau bridge,
including audio-visual displays, can also be had in the tourist
information section of the "Aire de l'Aveyron" service area, some 40
kilometres north of the viaduct, at Séverac le
Those interested in bridges, and heading for the Millau Viaduct
south down the A75 motorway from Clermont Ferrand, will want to stop
off on the way to view another magnificent viaduct, Gustave
Eiffel's Viaduc de Garabit.
This great 19th century viaduct is best seen from the motorway rest
area, the Aire de Service Viaduc Garabit Eiffel, where there is a small
interpretive centre. See photo on the Auvergne
page of this website.
viaduct toll prices January 2018
Cars: Summer (July
and August) : 10.10 €
– Rest of the year: 8.00 €
Summer (July and August) : 15.10 €
– Rest of the
year: 12.00 €
toll : 35.70 € all year
4.90 € all year
apart from the more recent Baluarte bridge in Mexico, which spans a
narrow gorge, the Millau viaduct has the highest road
bridge deck in the world, at a maximum height of 270 m (890 ft) over
the Tarn River. This is almost twice as high as the second-highest road
bridge in Europe, the Europabrücke on
Austria's Brenner pass
motorway. There are only two bridges in the world with a higher deck,
the Baluarte Bridge in Mexico, which is much shorter (a single central
span of 520 metres), and the Royal Gorge Bridge in Colorado, United
States, with a
deck at 321 m (1,050 ft); but the latter is not open to traffic under
The roadway over the Millau bridge is
kilometres long, and weighs about 36,000 tonnes; it is the longest
cable-stayed bridge deck in the world. The six central spans
are eack 342 metres in length. The bridge took three years to build,
and was opened in December 2004.
Millau: Location and access:
Millau, in the northeast of the Midi-Pyrenees
of France, is a small Mediterranean-style town on the
banks of the river Tarn, in the Aveyron department,. Once a notable
bottleneck on the old N9 road, Millau is now just a quiet provincial
town, albeit one that is attracting a growing number of
visitors on account of the viaduct. But the viaduct is not the only
thing worth seeing in Millau. Millau is a convenient centre for
exploring the famous Gorges du Tarn - the deepest canyon in France, the
Gorges de la Dourbie, the Causses - barren limestone plateaux - and the
famous blue-cheese cellars at Roquefort.
places to stay in Millau:
economy hotel; or the Mercure
midscale hotel, both near the old town centre. There is a Petit
(ex-Balladins) on the Larzac service area of the A75
south of the viaduct. Or check out some gites in the Aveyron area
The A75 Motorway
For people driving to the Languedoc
of the south of France or to the Spanish coast, taking the A75 motorway
across the Massif
mountains can often - but not always - be a
sensible choice. The A71 / A75 motorway route via Orleans and
Clermont Ferrand is the shortest and cheapest way to the Spanish border
at Le Pertuis. Furthermore, it is cheaper on tolls, as the section
between Clermont Ferrand and Beziers is free, except for the toll at
the bridge, which, for cars, costs 7.50 Euros in winter, and 9.40
summer (2015 rates). 50% more for caravans and camping cars.
WARNING !! The
A75 motorway is not
for all traffic - and not a motorway for all seasons....
Pas de l'Escalette - one of the gradients on the A75. Speed limit 70
km/h downhill for cars, 50km/h for
vehicles over 3.5 tonnes
The motorway across the top of France's Massif
remains at an altitude of up to 1100 metres
over 60 km between the the Col de la Fageole at 1107 metres,
Saint Flour, and
the highest point, the Col des Issartets at 1121 metres, near
Marvejols. South of that, there are two more summits at over 800
metres. So be warned;
this is not a route for
cars towing heavy caravans
, as there are
and (for a motorway) steep climbs and descents. There are
also some speed restrictions and permanent speed cameras. The A75 is a
motorway that can get quickly blocked in winter, in the event
of sudden heavy snowfalls which are not uncommon on the high ground.
Information panels before the motorway rises to high ground indicate
which routes are open..... but in some cases it can be a long
way to turn round
find another route... specially when approaching from the north.
Be prepared for the Pas de l'Escalette, where the A75 drops
the Massif Central, down to the Mediterranean plain, a fall of over 600
metres (almost 2000 ft) in under 10 km.... This descent is limited to
70 km/h in parts for cars, and 50 km/h for over 3.5 tonnes and caravans.
Another warning: Saturdays between mid July and
August. Do not need to fill up with petrol on the A75 on these very
busy holiday weekends; the service stations on this route cannot cope
with the very heavy extra traffic on these days, and petrol queues can
be backed up well onto the motorway. If you need to fill up, go off the
Contact: use "get in touch" form.
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