Lying at the centre of the Grands Causses Regional Nature Park, at the confluence of the Tarn and the Dourbie, Millau's industrial tradition dates to Roman times when the town made pottery.
manufacture of leather products and glove-making became the town's principal
economy. But during the 1930s, the glove-making business suffered a decline,
largely due to the import of cheap imitations. Recently, however, Parisian
fashion houses have decided that the old ways are the best, and Millau's glove
makers have seen a revival of their fortunes.
In addition, in 2005, with the opening of the stunning Millau viaduct, the town achieved even greater notoriety. But the hope among the town fathers must have been that travellers, once obliged to pass through the town, would continue to stop off before charging across the viaduct.
Notwithstanding its new bridge, Millau, which has an atmosphere that hints at the Mediterranean, is a fascinating and lively provincial town, a maze of narrow streets that lead to secluded squares, fountains, markets, shops and churches. It is the second town, after Rodez, in the old province of Rouergue, and its setting, between the Causse Noir and the Causse du Larzac, is quite spectacular. Along the Place Foch, in the shade of the plane trees, lie numerous cafés and restaurants, and ancient houses supported on stone pillars.
To fully appreciate the viaduct, you need to find your way out of town and along the road to Peyre – one of Aveyron's 'Most Beautiful Villages in France', which will take you directly under the bridge and on to the village. The bridge is awesome; the village quite simply beautiful.
© ATOUT FRANCE/Patrice Thébault/Eiffage - Foster and partners
1 place du Beffroi, 12103 Millau.
Tel: 05 65 60 02 42