Friday, September 12, 2008
Visiting the "Viaduc de Millau" and riding the "Gorges du Tarn" before
riding to Le Puy an Velay (part 1)
My alarmclock went off at seven. I dressed and mounted the panniers on the
bike. At a quarter to eight, we went to a fresh bakery and bought croissants
and chocolatbread. Then we went to the terrace of the restaurant on the square
and ordered coffee so we had our breakfast with fresh bread and coffee. Not a
bad way to start a day.
The restaurant where we had breakfast
After breakfast, we checked out of the hotel and wanted to visit the visitor
center of the bridge. Unfortunately it was closed and would not open until ten
AM so we took some pictures of the enormous pillars.
The Viaduc de Millau is a bridge over the river "Tarn". It is the highest
bridge in the world. One of the pillars is 343 meters high ! It was opend on
December 14, 2004 by the president of France and is a part of the "La
Méridienne" freeway, the A75/E11 that runs between Clermont-Ferrand and
A pillar of the Viaduc de Millau with Robert and
Janny in front of it so you can see how big it is.
On the road to the visitors center, Robert had seen a sign to a viewpoint on
the mountain so that was our next destination. It was a steep and narrow road
with nice hairpins to the top of a mountain with a good view on the bridge.
The Viaduc de Millau
First we had stopped halfway to take some pictures and the we went to the end
of the road at the top. From there we had a wonderful view on the bridge.
The Viaduc de Millau and our bikes
When we arrived at the top, we noticed some parasailers unpacking their
parachutes and while we were taking pictures, they took off.
Parasailer taking off
It was a nice view to see the parasailers high in the sky with the Viaduc
de Millau as a background. While the parasailers were in the sky, some very
big birds came flying past them, curious what kind of bird this might be.
Parasailer and the viaduct
Then it was time to go on. I let Robert go first so I could take some
pictures while he was riding back to the valley.
Robert navigating a hairpin with his GL1800
After I took some pictures of Robert and Janny on their GoldWing, I jumped on
my BMW to race after them to the valley. This is so much more fun then riding
on the very flat and straight roads in the Netherlands.
The mountainroad with the viaduct in the background
Then we took the road into Millau again and went to a small market place, out
of the tourist area. While a coffee in a restaurant on the big square was a
few euro's for one coffee, here we had three coffee's for € 2.55.
The marketplace in Millau, no tourist, just locals
While he was taking our order for the coffee, the waiter noticed my Nikon camera
and he was very enthousiastic about it. He told he had been a photographer with
the police. We (mostly Robert) had a nice conversation with him.
When we finished our coffee, we turned the bikes around and left the market to
go to the Gorges du Tarn.
The Tarn River (tarnis in Latin; hypothetical meaning: rapid or walled in)
is a 381 kilometres (237 mi) long river in southern France (régions
Languedoc-Roussillon and Midi-Pyrénées), right tributary of the Garonne.
The Tarn River runs in a roughly westerly direction, from its source at an
altitude of 1,550 m on Mont Lozère in the Cévennes mountains (part of the
Massif Central), through the deep gorges and canyons of the Gorges du Tarn
(that cuts through the Causse du Larzac), to Moissac in Tarn-et-Garonne,
where it joins the Garonne River 4 km (2.5 miles) downstream the center
Before we entered the Gorges du Tarn, we refueled at a Total gasstation in Millau.
I have used 5,98 liter on 158,7 km. Not bad.
From Millau we rode straight to the Gorges du Tarn. Our plan is to ride the Gorges
to the end and then Robert and Janny will go South to their holiday destination and
I will go North, returning home.
But first we enjoyed the Gorges du Tarn and boy did we enjoy it!
GoldWing and trailer on the road in the Gorges du Tarn
There was hardly a stretch of straight road. It is nice curve after nice curve
and most of the time with the canyon wall on the left and a very nice view on the
river Tarn on the right.
Our bikes in the Gorges du Tarn
The scenery is great. The forest, the river and some small villages, some
sticked to the slope of the canyon and not accesible by car, some down near
the river with a nice old stone bridge over the Tarn.
A small village on the slopes of the canyon
A small tunnel
Robert and Janny, enjoying the view in the Gorges du Tarn