Here are bits from the New York Times article on the Millau bridge:
A DELICATE butterfly of concrete and steel, the viaduct of Millau soars across the sky as if eager to proclaim that no bridge on earth is taller. Yet its arrogant daring can surely be forgiven. It took a feat of engineering and a leap of the imagination to span the rough, rugged Tarn Valley less than an hour from Caussi.
The result is breathtaking.
The gently curving structure dominating the skyline is best appreciated from a distance. When it comes into view, its appearance is always a surprise. The curved white suspension cables of the bridge blend so easily with a blue sky that when the sun is just right, the cables magically disappear, one after the other.
But from almost any angle, the Millau bridge radiates energy. On the approach by car on the A75 from Montpellier, for example, the bridge suddenly sneaks up from around a curve. On the drive along the winding road to the cheese-making town of Roquefort, it abruptly hovers overhead.
The bridge is more than 50 feet higher than the Eiffel Tower (1,125 feet from the bottom of the gorge to the top of the pylon atop the tallest pillar), with a sweep of one and a half miles.
Its architect, the British lord Norman Foster, used light, ultramodern materials to give drivers crossing the bridge the feeling of flying over the valley. He insisted that the roads used to haul materials and equipment during the three-year construction be covered over so the bridge would be surrounded by unspoiled terrain.
Since it opened in December 2004, the bridge has begun to rid the sleepy region of its reputation as a way to somewhere else. The market on Wednesday and Friday at the central square is a local affair, where vinegars and violet garlic in bunches are sold at bargain prices. In ancient times, Millau was the site of some of the largest mass-production pottery factories in the Roman Empire, replacing Arezzo when Italian pottery became too costly to make. The Museum of Millau, in an 18th-century mansion, has a vast collection illustrating just how ubiquitous the pottery was: the stamps of 600 pottery makers have been found on the pieces here.
For visitors interested in Millau's ancient history, Graufesenque just outside Millau is the Gallic-Roman archaeological site of an ancient pottery factory. Only a tiny fraction has been excavated; most of the remains are under the land owned by the neighborhood farmers. The site is enveloped in the scent of wild rosemary. Visitors are invited to picnic under the shade of cherry and walnut trees, where they may have a view of the paragliders who take off from a nearby mountain.
Alain Vernet, the archaeologist who has been working here for 35 years, will show you where the slaves who worked in the factory were housed, as well as the location of the ovens, baths, kitchens, living quarters and a temple area. He can explain how up to 40,000 pieces could be fired in the 1,000-degree oven at the same time and how Millau once produced pottery for the entire imperial Roman army. To demonstrate how plentiful and easy to find pottery shards are, he has collected thousands of them in a pile encircled by a green wire fence.
The Millau Office de Tourisme, 1, place du Beffroi, (33-5) 65.60.02.42, www.ot-millau.fr, can provide information on hotels and tourist sites in the region. Tours of the bridge are offered for $12.
The Viaduc Espace Info, (33-5) 220.127.116.11, three miles on the D992 from Millau, is between bridge pillars P4 and P5. The toll across the bridge is $7.90 in summer; $6 the rest of the year. For information, visit www.leviaducdemillau.com.