The Millau Bridge And Montpellier


ViaducdeMillau

The Millau Viaduct

Recently I took a short break to the south-west of France, flying Bristol to Beziers. The benefit of small airports, apart from cheap flights, is that you’re both on and off very quickly!

We planned to take a look at the famous Millau Bridge (more precisely a viaduct) but didn’t have time for it in the end. From Wikipedia:

The Millau Viaduct is a cable-stayed road-bridge that spans the valley of the River Tarn near Millau in southern France. Designed by the French bridge engineer Michel Virlogeux, in collaboration with architect Norman Robert Foster, it is the tallest vehicular bridge in the world, with one pier’s summit at 343 metres (1,125 ft) — slightly taller than the Eiffel Tower and only 38 m (125 ft) shorter than the Empire State Building. It was formally dedicated on 14 December 2004 and opened to traffic two days later.

However flying out of Beziers, we glanced down and even then it was pretty hard to miss – incredibly impressive!

On one of the days we went to Montpellier, which we’d heard good reports of and were quite surprised at both it’s size and differing styles. Some interesting facts and figures are:

Montpellier is one of the French people’s three favourite cities for its attractive living and working conditions. Over the past 20 years, Montpellier has grown to become France’s 8th largest city. Montpellier is also the city with the highest demographic growth in France, with 43% of the population under 30 years old. Today, the Montpellier agglomeration area has a population of 420,000. According to Insee forecasts this could grow by an additional 300,000 people by 2030.

The city has two large and quite separate parts. The old town has myriad streets like this, with many bars and small restaurants

2013-05-25 Montpellier 1

And major historical buildings like the Opera House (below)

2013-05-25 Montpellier 2

And the new part, which, in sharp contrast, has views like this

2013-05-25 Montpellier 5

2013-05-25 Montpellier 4

Quite an unusual mixture of styles. There’s a good tram system so it’s easy to go from one part to the other (there’s quite a distance between them).

I’d like to go back there again and explore further as Montpellier really caught my imagination (cheap direct flights are readily available).

Picture credit: Millau Viaduct.

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