03 October, 2011

The Millau viaduct - a feat of engineering

A couple of years ago, I went on a road trip through Portugal; Spain, and France. Before I left, I read an article about the Millau viaduct which is part of the route from Paris to Montpellier. It looked spectacular in the pictures, and I knew I had to make it part of my journey. It is the tallest bridge in the world - taller than the Eiffel Tower with one mast's summit at 343 metres. As you approach it, you realise it not only breaks records, but could be one of the most beautiful bridges in the world.

Fans of the British motoring show Top Gear may remember the bridge being featured when the presenters took a Ford GT, Pagani Zonda and Ferrari F430 Spyder on a road trip across France to see the newly completed bridge. I couldn't think of a better, more dramatic setting to try out such amazing supercars.

It was designed by British architect Norman Foster, and really is a feat of engineering. Foster said it was designed to have "the delicacy of a butterfly" and, despite its size, he has somehow achieved that. The bridge in the South of France stretches a mile and a half over the Tarn river and its valley. Connecting the motorway networks of France and Spain, it opens up a direct route from Paris to Barcelona. Near the bridge is a small visitors centre which gives you stunning views of the bridge from below.

Millau itself is a lovely town with well-preserved old streets, and a relaxed cafe culture, and it's definitely worth stopping here for a night or two. They really pushed the boundaries of engineering to the limits with this bridge, battling against high winds and storms during its creation.

However, the hard work was all worthwhile, because people now drive hundreds of miles to admire what has to be considered as one of the most incredible pieces of engineering in the 21st Century.

See the Top Gear feature HERE on YouTube - the Millau bridge features from 4 minutes 30 secs.

1 comment:

  1. This is a pretty awesome bridge! I'd love to have my morning jog across it!