From Carcassonne over the viaduct to Millau

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June 6th 2011
Published: June 10th 2011
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It was a leisurely drive today, full of excitement and expectations of what we were going to see when we reached our destination of Millau. But first we had one final visit to the town of Carcassonne before we headed off. Adventurers before us had discovered the Otago Rugby Shop in the town and gave us no instructions on how to find it so we wandered the streets hoping to stumble across the shop. We suspect that after the 2010 New Zealand rugby season and Otago’s dismal performance the shop has probably closed down and that’s the reason it couldn’t be found.
Leaving Carcassonne we headed northeast towards Millau. The green rolling countryside was similar to that in North Otago, New Zealand. There were vast fields of grain or sunflower plants and roads lined with plane trees. Our route then took us over very hilly countryside with beech and pine trees across the hills. Where some of the trees had been felled broom and gorse were in plentiful supply, another reminder of home. Small villages would appear and just as quickly disappear as we drove across this magnificent countryside.
During our travels we have attempted to avoid the toll roads but the A75 was one toll road we wanted to use. As we got closer to the on ramp to the highway we prepared the cameras for some speedy photography. This route would take us over the Millau Viaduct, not only an incredible engineering feat but a magnificent piece of art. We had seen a documentary of the construction of this bridge on TV and while driving in the region just had to experience it first hand.
As you drive onto the bridge from the south you are met with the wonderful sight of the emerging pylons used to support the bridge. It was an amazing feeling driving over this bridge so high above the valley floor. We wondered how the people in the town of Millau feel about the bridge when it is such a dominant feature in their lives. Because of its design it looks slim, almost like a collection of string stretched across the gorge so may not be as imposing as some bridges might look. The engineers and administrators thought of everything including the very attractive information centre at the north end of the bridge, where you can get great views of the structure. In the garden at the centre we spotted thyme in flower. This had also been growing wild on the hills around Minerve; a happy echo of favourite places in Central Otago, NZ. The 6€40 toll was well worth the experience.
Our stay in Millau was for only one night and from our hotel window we could look out and see the bridge with the pylons lit up at night. A great sight. It had been a special day with a relaxing drive through wonderful countryside along quiet roads, but sleep came easily in this quiet hotel.


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