We are both quite tired from yesterday's long, warm ride after we first had to break down the tent and then had to set it up again in the evening. We have bought a new, somewhat larger tent, and this was only the second time we set it up and while it went fine in Orcet, it did not work out last night; it took us over an hour. We blame the heat, and this morning we take it easy and cool our feet in the Tarn.
Then we quietly set out for Millau, a nice tourist town, probably busier than ever since recently (Dec. 2004), there is a spectacular bridge in the neighborhood. One of the reasons that we are here, too. But the town itself also has a nice atmosphere, there are a few nice things to see but we are mainly interested in the old narrow streets that give a picture of the past. We walk around for an hour but the heat quickly leads us to a terrace with a parasol above the table.
Then we drive out of the village via a route that leads us under the famous bridge. Almost 2.5 kilometers of bridge deck that rests on 7 pillars of which the highest (in the world!) is 343 meters high. Just before we left we saw a documentary about the construction of the bridge in 3 years time and we wanted to see this world wonder in real life. We take a road that first leads us under the bridge and of course you can not stop (and who are there to photograph? Right, only Dutch people) so we drive a little around and we are really impressed by the colossus that spans this valley, 270 meters above the river.
A little past Peyre we take a very steep road up the hill so that we have an even wider view of the bridge and from this no man's land we have a spectatculair view over the valley and in the distance the bridge. On wikipedia we read that the bridge was built to last 120 years and we wonder what will take its place after that. A structure like this is yet another proof for us that humanity can make fantastic things if we work together. That we will have to pay a few euro toll in order to be able to get over it is no more than logical.
The distance we have just traveled over a secondary road to the north in an hour, we drive back over the highway in a few minutes and since it is quiet we can slowly drive over the bridge. After paying the toll we have to wait a little while before we get there, but we immediately feel that we are hanging above the ravine. The highest measured wind speed is 150 km. per hour and on the bridge it can be 220 km. per hour. Such a gust of wind will undoubtedly blow there now and then, but luckily not now. But still we think we feel the bridge move underneath us and it is probably that way, without that flexibility it would not endure at all.We love natural wonders, but this is certainly a human wonder of the world.
At the first exit we leave the toll road again and drive via the D999 to Nant and thence through the Gorges de Dourbie back towards Millau and the campsite.
This gap, worn by the river Dourbie, is less spectacular and significantly shorter than the Gorges du Tarn but also very scenic. At the village Cantobre, that seems to be stuck on the rocks, we stop for a short walk. This whole area is part of the regional nature park of the Grands-Causses.On the way back to the campsite we drive along the east bank of the Tarn and we have to turn the air conditioning in the car on, something we seldom do, so that indicates that it is very hot. But also a little stuffy and it looks like we're going to get thunder, but back at the campsite the sky is bright blue again and we can sit outside for a few more hours, relaxing and reading our books.