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Millau Viaduct – World's Tallest Bridge

Updated on April 14, 2011

An Engineering Work of Art

To me there are few things more impressive than being on a man-made structure, such as a very tall building or a bridge, and viewing blue sky above and clouds below. Of, course for this to occur the structure has be be rather high and the clouds low.

This is why I was immediately impressed when a friend sent me pictures of the Millau Viaduct, which crosses the valley of the Tarn River valley near the city of Millau in the mountains of southern France.

Normally it is the high mountains that present a challenge to engineers building roads that connect two or more points. However, in case of the Millau Viaduct, the mountain area through which the A75 autoroute, also known as la Méridienne, passes is apparently rather high most of the way until it reaches the Tarn River valley.

Bridge with blue sky above and clouds below.
Bridge with blue sky above and clouds below.
Bridge spans valley of the Tarn River.
Bridge spans valley of the Tarn River.

A Joint Franco-British Project

As can be seen from the picture at the right, one has to traverse a long, winding road down the mountain on one side of the valley and then immediately repeat the process while climbing up the mountain on the other side of the valley.

In addition to the kilometers / miles and time added by the trip down into the valley and back up into the mountains, time was also lost in the past to traffic congestion in the town and on the two lane bridge across the Tarn River. It is estimated that the bridge over the valley has shortened the driving distance between the Paris and the Mediterranean coast of France by 100 kilometers (about 62 miles) and, during the summer tourist season, reduced travel time by as much as four hours.

Construction of the bridge was a joint Franco-British project with help from companies in other European countries. Financing for the 394 million Euro (U.S. $524) project was provided by the French construction firm Eiffage. As a result of corporate mergers*, the Eiffage frim includes the firm that built the Eiffel Tower in Paris which, at the time of its completion in 1887, was the tallest structure in the world.

This is obviously a company with long experience in being involved with construction of structures of record setting size. British architect Norman Foster designed the bridge, which has come to be viewed both as a work of art as well as a construction marvel, while the French bridge engineer, Dr. Michel Virlogeux, provided the engineering design.

While planning began in the late twentieth century, actual construction did not begin until December 2001 and its 2005 target completion date was achieved a little early when it was formally dedicated on December 14, 2004 and opened to traffic on December 16, 2004.

The Millau Viaduct is an artistic and engineering marvel.

The bridge currently holds the record for having the highest piles (the pilers rising from the ground and supporting the bridge from below) of any bridge in the world with its highest being 244.96 meters (803.7 feet) and the highest mast (the pilers rising up from the top of the bridge and holding the suspension cables) which towers 343 meters (1,125 feet) above the roadbed of the bridge.

It also has a claim to having the highest roadbed of any bridge in the world with its roadbed reaching 270 meters (885.8 feet) above the river below.

However, the roadbed of the Royal Gorge Bridge in Colorado in the United States tops this with its roadbed which towers 1,053 feet (321 meters) above the river below.

Based upon height of roadbed, the Royal Gorge Bridge is the highest in the world while based upon mast height, the Millau Viaduct is the highest in the world. Regardless of which is the highest, the Millau Viaduct is the clear winner in terms of length and beauty.

* NOTE: See comment below from chabrenas on the lineage of the Eiffage firm.


Royal Gorge Bridge in Colorado.  Its roadbed is a few meters higher than that of the Millau Viaduct which allows it to continue to hold title of highest bridge in the world based upon height of roadbed.
Royal Gorge Bridge in Colorado. Its roadbed is a few meters higher than that of the Millau Viaduct which allows it to continue to hold title of highest bridge in the world based upon height of roadbed.

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    • JYOTI KOTHARI profile image

      Jyoti Kothari 2 years ago from Jaipur

      Very nice. The UK and France joined hands to build this marvel. Rated up!

    • profile image

      Betty Price 5 years ago

      WOW that was very interesting and awesome pictures I enjoyed this very much!!!!

    • profile image

      Mia Mendez 5 years ago

      that's a awesome pic dude!

    • profile image

      Jasmine 5 years ago

      Hey can someone tell me how much weight it can hold

    • profile image

      bok 6 years ago

      weard

    • profile image

      Lauren 6 years ago

      OMG! This is such a legendary pic!:)

    • profile image

      TYROCKSTAR13 7 years ago

      LOVE THIS BRIDGE

    • James Mark profile image

      James Mark 7 years ago from York, England

      Just found this, for which thanks from an ex-expat. Many of my students in France told me stories of the traffic hold-ups before the bridge and the improvement after its opening. Bridges great and small are often impressive - the tilting Millennium Bridge, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England, is a little marvel.

    • profile image

      gus 7 years ago

      cool

    • bbjane profile image

      bbjane 7 years ago from Cagayan de Oro, Philippines

      I love it... Checkout my travel hub: https://hubpages.com/travel/Top-5-places-to-visit-... . I hope you like it.

    • profile image

      v mewade 7 years ago

      thak you for giving us this good facelities.

    • profile image

      Composite Panels 8 years ago

      The chabrenas looks like a footbridge and a precarious one at that. does it really take autos? It gives me the "willies" just looking at the view.

    • thejimster profile image

      thejimster 8 years ago

      Cool stuff. It's amazing what human kind can do.

    • starcatchinfo profile image

      starcatchinfo 8 years ago

      EXCELLENT PICTURES OF SCENIC BEAUTY .

    • BrianS profile image

      Brian Stephens 8 years ago from Castelnaudary, France

      I run a gite pretty close to the bridge in the Languedoc-Rousillion region of France, still haven't managed to get across and have a look at it but now I have seen these pictures I will definitely make an effort to go and see it.

    • profile image

      How to guitar 8 years ago

      WOW!! really beautiful....love it very much. may travel there to have a look,

    • abouttravel profile image

      abouttravel 8 years ago from Barcelona, Spain

      We live in Barcelona and from time to time drive back to the UK via the Millau Viaduct. I get a buzz each time we cross it! The scenery is spectacular.

      Millau itself is a lovely town and well worth staying in too, if you get a chance. Close to Roquefort and the Roquefort Cheese Caves, there's lots to do and see in this region, so next time you cross the bridge stop awhile and discover the countryside.

    • Sandilyn profile image

      Sandilyn 8 years ago from Port Orange, FL

      That is absolutly beautiful! It is always nice to stop and read something unique about history and the marvels of human beings. The works of art that they create.

      Not only functual but breathtaking as well. I always cross a bridge and wonder how they are able to do what they do. How can they build such structures to support such weight and where they do?

      Great pics too!

    • profile image

      janestanley 8 years ago

      WOW! The artistry and engineering for those bidges are breath taking. I would have loved to been able to see the construction processes from the beginning all the way through to the end. I would like to share another lens with you that I found informative http://www.excavatorsguide.com/bobcat-construction... It is full of information, facts and links that would be useful for the construction industry. Enjoy!

    • profile image

      CecilleChase05 8 years ago

      Very beautiful shot of the Millau Viaduct! It is certainly an engineering work of art. I can well surmise that the view from up there is breathtaking! If you've got the time, kindly drop by this site about the duties of an industrial electrician or engineer: http://www.electricianweb.com/industrial-electrici... It's nice to know how these people contribute to the construction of such fantastic structures. Cheers!

    • profile image

      dianacampbell 9 years ago

      I like this hub! The things you write about Miilau Viaduct is one such excellent job. I am giving you five stars for accomplishing such work. I was amazed at how they built such a tall bridge. Awesome! Here's another helpful lens that I like http://excavatorsguide.com/trucks/ A lens about excavators equipment. It has full facts and links that of great help for those who are in construction businesses.

    • profile image

      Jimmy Anderson 9 years ago

      Great Hub. Fabuallous work.. I am very happy to come across you page and have also book marked it for future references and for friends. A 5* from me... Also, you can check out the site http://www.portablebuildingscentral.com/ for very useful stuffs on construction work.

    • solarshingles profile image

      solarshingles 9 years ago from london

      Simply beautiful! There are many more very nice Alpine bridges in Europe, as well, maybe even more beautiful for the Alpine surrounding. Whenever I passed by in the car, I simply needed to stop.

    • skyflyer9 profile image

      skyflyer9 9 years ago

      Great hub. Great pictures. Really superb. I heard about Millau Viaduct but now I could see the bridge only in your hub. Good job and keep it on. Thanks for sharing the information. I like this hub and rated 5*. You may find an informative and interesting stuff about Portable Buildings Cabins on http://www.portablebuildingsforprofit.com/portable... Please step into this site for more stuff about Portable Buildings Cabins.

    • stevemark122000 profile image

      stevemark122000 9 years ago from Southern California

      Wow, I want get in my car and drive to Colarado so I can go across that bridge. Great Job!

    • caseysellers02 profile image

      caseysellers02 9 years ago

      Wow! Truly amazing work of man! This hub is very informative and I am giving you five-stars for it. Seeing the photo of the tallest bridge made me scared to death! I will not cross that bridge ever and I hope I can keep my word. I just couldn't imagine how they do that. It was unbelievably amazing. I am searching for a hub or a lens about portable home when I came across yours and that photo will keep me from coming back. I would like to share this lens that I also rated five-stars http://www.portablebuildingscenter.com/ they give lots of informations and links about portable buildings and a lot more. You can check it out.

    • cyndeehaydon profile image

      cyndeehaydon 9 years ago from Clearwater Florida

      I am constantly amazed at what it takes to create these modern marvels - great hub. We have several large bridges here in the Tampa Bay area over our bay and waterways and we've experienced the challenges involved in making these beauties functionally sound.

    • profile image

      digvijay 9 years ago

      good pics its very attractive beautiful

    • profile image

      Cheap Music 9 years ago

      Wow, It look very Scary. However if got opportuinity, i may travel there to have a look...Good for special memory.

    • profile image

      jpiersol 9 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Great hub, thanks.

    • plaw profile image

      plaw 9 years ago from Trinidad and Tobago

      Great hub. What an amazing bridge. I will love to see it some day

    • profile image

      James 9 years ago

      Amazing, I wanna be there.

    • Cinda profile image

      Cinda 9 years ago from Malaysia

      Agreed, a latest greatest structure of the world today. very informative hub!!

    • Hazok profile image

      Hazok 9 years ago from Malaysia

      Agreed, great bridge, impressive. what more impressive would be how's it being done? anyway, great hub.

    • arrow sheds profile image

      arrow sheds 9 years ago

      Beautiful! It took my breath away. Must be something to actually be on it! Excellent!

    • chabrenas profile image

      chabrenas 9 years ago from middle of France

      You're welcome, Chuck. Hope you get a chance to see the viaduct one day.

    • Chuck profile image
      Author

      Chuck Nugent 9 years ago from Tucson, Arizona

      chabrenas, Thanks for visiting my Hub and for your comment and your clarification of Eiffage's connection to to the construction of Eiffel Tower. I have made a slight revision to the Hub and incorporated that piece of information. Thanks again.

      Chuck

    • chabrenas profile image

      chabrenas 9 years ago from middle of France

      It's certainly both a superb piece of engineering and a work of art. Watching it being built was at least as fascinating as crossing it. The roadbed was constructed of steel at each side of the valley, and every so often it was pushed out towards the towers using huge hydraulic rams. Since it would have drooped too far by the time it reached the permanent towers, they built temporary ones in between.

      A small correction: Eiffage consists of the firms Fougerolle-Quilley-SAE, SCR-Beugnet-Gerland, Forclum-Norelec and Eiffel. It only came into being in 1992.

    • jayraj74 profile image

      jayraj74 9 years ago from AHMEDABAD

      Very good job. Look forward to more of your articles.

    • Princessa profile image

      Wendy Iturrizaga 9 years ago from France

      We used the Millau Viaduct a couple of times during our travel adventures. I felt like stopping the car to take a few pictures but it was not possible :-(

      Your Colorado bridge is also very impresive. And if you are a fan of man-made structures you should travel around Italy. On our way to Calabria we must have passed at least 20 of these viaducts, each more impresive than the next one!

    • Misha profile image

      Misha 9 years ago from DC Area

      Wow, that's impressive. And scary at the same time... But this pic with clouds - it's something

    • dc64 profile image

      dc64 9 years ago

      Wow. Beautiful, but I would be a little afraid to drive across them. They just seem to be floating in mid-air!

    • fabioce profile image

      fabioce 9 years ago from Pozzuoli

      I'm in fear, i'll don't reach to stay there....

    • profile image

      www.prankvideoz.com 9 years ago

      Looks quite scary.. imagine falling down from such a height. OMG

    • j.wilson profile image

      j.wilson 9 years ago

      Very informative hub. Keep up! ;)

    • profile image

      wajay_47 9 years ago

      Great hub, Chuck, great photos, too. But not the place for a person who fears heights. I don't even like being this tall! I could fall from here and get hurt. Another great hub, as usual.

    • profile image

      LUIS 9 years ago

      CONTESTA

    • profile image

      TALEST BRIDGE 9 years ago

      HOLA KE ASES

    • Harlan Lewin profile image

      Harlan Lewin 9 years ago from San Francisco

      I hope to see the bridge next time i'm in france.

    • Mark Rollins profile image

      Mark Rollins 9 years ago

      This is a very cool photo shoot. I want to see this bridge for myself. I am completely sold on this.

      Very good job. Look forward to more of your articles.

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