The Millau Viaduct was built out of necessity: it opens up the southern Massif Central by creating a direct motorway between Clermont-Ferrand and Béziers.
How? By building an aqueduct to cross a gap 2460 m long and thus span the Tarn valley in Aveyron. A technical challenge that required 13 years of study and ... 3 years of construction.
At its commissioning in 2004, the Millau Viaduct became the highest motorway bridge in the world...
Its deck, which rises 270 meters above the Tarn (Aveyron), is the longest cable-stayed bridge (2460 meters) with the highest stack rising 145 m high.
This titanic structure was constructed with clean high-tech technologies in the world of public works: the structure is made out of self-climbing formwork, high performance concrete and innovative materials, making this unique structure (designed by British architect Norman Foster and French engineer Michel Virlojeux) so successful.
The bridge, made out of steel and concrete, gives the viaduct a strong fine structure with only 7 points along the construction supporting it and 1,500 tonnes of live wire covering the surface of the bridge.
13 years of study
This project did not need thirteen years of technical and financial research for nothing!
The bridge has overcome enormous geographic, climate and seismic problems in the region.
Strong winds can blow nearly 200 km/h in the Tarn valley. And there are seismic risks in the area, considered to be quite low which should be taken into account.
Ways to explore it...
If you would like to visit this symbol of modernity in its majestic setting, there are a thousand and one ways to explore it.
First you can take the 32 m wide bridge which hosts a dual carriageway, as well as:
- over water
- by canoe
- by pedestrian walkway, by bike or by quadbike
- a view from the sky in an autogyro or paragliding
Each year, more than 500,000 people visit this work, appreciating it from every angle. This Viaduct also helped open up the region: it is the link for the A75 motorway, connecting Paris to the Mediterranean.
The Millau Viaduct in figures
- Length: 2 460 m
- Breadth: 32 m
- Maximum height: 343 m, 19 m higher than the Eiffel Tower
- Slope: 3.025% increase north-south (in the direction Clermont-Ferrand - Béziers)
- Height of the tallest column (P2): 245 m
- Tower height: 87 m
- Number of columns: 7
- Total weight: 10 100 tons