Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A Bridge Too Tall

Today's Wonder of the World is...the Viaduc de Millau, the tallest vehicular bridge in the world!

It's so tall that the Eiffel Tower could fit underneath it!

It's 125 feet shorter than the Empire State Building. At it's highest point, it's 894 feet above the Tarn River.

Usually I like my bridges much smaller.
Here's one out at Furman University where Sam and I took a bike ride/walk last week.

I used to be afraid of bridges. I was sure that they would fall apart right when my family was in the middle, just like in the movies.

Also I kept reliving the story of the Billy Goats Gruff.

Trip Trap. Trip Trap.
There's a troll under there, I just know it.

But hey, he's not so bad.

Here's a famous bridge you might recognize.

Know which one it is?
It's the one at Giverny, at Monet's garden. If you're feeling the least bit envious, I should tell you that at the very moment at which I snapped this shot, Sam was throwing a big fit and wouldn't get off the bridge. See him? He's in the yellow raincoat.
And the lady in the skirt to the side of Todd had just told Todd not to feel bad, that she once had her picture taken at the same spot and "I was every bit as naughty. My parents couldn't do a thing with me either."

Anyway, back to the bridge we're discussing today...

Didn't I tell you? It's in France too!

And it's through a beautiful part of France. But aren't all parts of France beautiful?

Every time we'd drive south towards the Mediterranean, (again, if this sounds too La-ti-dah for you, just picture a tiny clown car packed to the brim with children, all wanting to know When do we get there? and saying they have to pee, when there's a serious lack of rest rooms in that beautiful country!) As I was saying, every time we drove down south, we'd drive through that valley and stop just to gawk at the beauty. The green rolling hills, the rushing river. The villages. The food. (It's always the food.) And the entrance (kind of) to Provence.
Ah, Provence.

The bridge was started before we left, but didn't finish until we were long gone. As you can see by the map (yellow line) it provides a direct route south for folks from Paris, right through Clermont Ferrand. The bridge is the red dot. Maybe those Parisians will stop in Auvergne, Clermont's region, and come to appreciate how gorgeous and medieval it is!
Or maybe not. It will stay a secret for the rest of us!

I looked through my pictures and I have a terrible lack of photos from the area around the bridge. But I did find this. It's a beautiful slide show of pics of the region and of the bridge, as it was being built and after it was finished, accompanied by the incredible melancholy voice of Francis Cabrel. I think you'll like it.

Love, Becky


Lisa Bullard said...

If bridges make you nervous, don't watch this video. But if you're a science geek, you will enjoy it.
(or go to and search for Tacoma Bridge).

JaxPop said...

I just commented to Deb that if I can make it through this week without jumping off a bridge .... & then I see this post. She didn't by chance email you this morning - did she?

Grosgrain Kathleen said...

Oh just looking at those top bridges makes my butt tingle. I once rode across a tall bridge on a train when I was twelve. Sooo scary. In my twelve-year-old-mind it looked as though the bridge was so thin that we were floating over the land. Have you ever been on the bridge connecting Florida to the keys? Weird....driving over the ocean.

Barb said...

Hi Becky,

I can only do small bridges. While I can appreciate the engineering that goes into constructing a bridge, I would rather look at them. I'll leave the crossing to others. Drives my husband crazy!

Anonymous said...

Hi Becky
Oh those pictures make me miss Europe so! I have a Monet print that I got at the Louvre Museum of Monet's Giverny bridge during the autumn. Just wish I could have gotten a print of that bridge in all 4 seasons! It is awesome that you got to actually visit the bridge. What a peaceful looking place. I am curious, though, on what the reaction of the French people was when that suspension bridge was being built through that beautiful countryside. I could not drive over it, because I would be white-knuckling the steering wheel in addition to wanting to hurl the entire time and not enjoy the magnificent view. Bertter for me to be a passenger. Tammy Whitley

TattingChic said...

I love quaint little bridges. Unfortunately where I live there is a serious lack of them and an abundance of huge scary bridges...well, maybe just one...but that's more than enough for me.

Randy and Linda said...

Real nice video of that region of France, and watching the bridge being built. It's amazing how massive each pier is, with impressive structure even inside the piers. Very impressive French engineering - it doesn't surprise me. Love Monet's work, and saw a wonderful display of it in Musee d'Orsay in Paris. Have always enjoyed impressionist art. Also, Chenonceau is a beautiful chateau to visit - so beautiful with the river flowing under it! You know last time we went to France, we actually felt at home there - it was great, and our family renting a chateau near Honfleur for 1-week was a real treat, before Linda and I took off in our rental car to travel our route to St.Petersburg, Russian. Europe is so cool!
Back to bridges - the Tappanzee Bridge in NY, on the Hudson just above NYC, is a very tall bridge off the water, and I think its about 2 miles long. Back in the '60's when that bridge was new, I remember that they often had to ban VW vans on windy days, because of some tragic accidents as you can imagine. The old Charleston > Mt.Pleasant bridge was always a scary one, and so narrow too. Royal Gorge bridge in Colorado is a good one to walk or drive over - I think its like 800-1000ft. above the river.
I give credit to all of the Civil Engineers that do this amazing brideg design. Oh, just remembered that the Chinese are finishing work on what I think will be the longest bridge over water, but I don't think its a high bridge.
Have a great evening all.

Sherry Martschink said...

Like many folks, I used to be petrified of the old bridge between Charleston and Mt. Pleasant, but soon got quite used to it. We called it a roller-coaster bridge. The one in France looks amazing! Thanks for sharing. Also enjoyed the post about kudzu. I once saw a recipe for kudzu pie!
Stop in for a visit again some time.