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© T.Lambelin A glimpse of the future at the Millau Viaduct The river and gorges of the Tarn are well known enough and undoubtedly it’s worth losing yourself for a while here in what is the deepest canyon in France, while you recover from the excesses of Villefranche. But this really is a place where the vastness of nature meets the enormity of human creation and if the Pont du Gard transports you back to the time of the Romans, I’m not quite sure where Norman Foster’s Millau Viaduct will take you. Higher than the Eiffel Tower, 270 metres above the ground, it is the highest road bridge deck and the longest suspension bridge in the world, straddling the Tarn valley and has been described as one of the greatest engineering achievements of all time. Don’t rush the experience, it’s one of those places that you just have to reflect on for a while. North of the bridge is a service station area created out of old farm buildings with a great viewing platform which is best enjoyed at dawn or dusk.
The service station is also dedicated to local produce and includes an eatery run by Michel Bras’ brother where you can sample his unique “capuchins”, a pancake style cone filled a choice of gastronomic delights. But for me, the only way to really savour this spectacular vision of the future is to head to nearby Creissels, between April and October, and just slow things down for a while with a boat trip. It’s a wonderful way to enjoy the Tarn, its wild life and pretty river bank villages like the well-known Peyre (one of the “most beautiful villages of France”), but the real pleasure is that you also slip quietly under the huge, shimmering viaduct. You can’t rush the Aveyron. You must stop and try its earthy cheeses and local dishes; its Aligot and Flaune, its Roquefort and its Pérail. You must listen to its memories and think about all who’ve gone before you. And you must explore and soak up its earthy, wholesome soul. www.millau-viaduc-tourisme.co.uk www.bateliersduviaduc.com