Millau (Occitan: Milhau) is
a commune in the Aveyron department in southern France.
located at the confluence of the Tarn and Dourbie
By the 1st century AD there was a settlement on the spot,
identified by Dieudonne du Rey
in the 19th century as Condatomagus
which was the major earthenware
in the Roman Empire
, La Graufesenque
This major Roman site supplied most of the best pottery right
across the Roman Empire for 150 years. It was not in the centre of
the town but sat on the right bank of the River Tarn half a mile
Yet even today, with much major new development, the centre of the
old Roman and medieval town on the opposite (left) bank of the Tarn
remains poorly excavated, and the newly renovated Maison du
, almost on the site of the old Roman forum
, saw no archaeology
before major mechanical excavation
for recent new very deep foundations.
Surprisingly, the local museum sits almost adjacent to this
In the Middle Ages
the town had one of
the major mediaeval
bridges across the
River Tarn. With 17 spans, if it were still standing it would be a
major monument; but one poorly maintained span fell in the 18th
century, and so the bridge was mostly demolished.
span remains, with a mill, now an art gallery, as testament to this
significant trading route from north to south across pre-Renaissance France.
In 1999, José Bové
, a local
the Millau McDonalds
as it was being
built, in symbolic protest of the spread of fast food
, and the spread of
'Genetically Modified Organisms/crops' (GMO
The McDonalds was later rebuilt, and Bové received a Presidential
pardon from then French President Jacques
In the 21st century, clear of traffic jams, the town is a tourist
centre with one of the largest touring campsites in central France,
and it is a major centre for sporting activity.
twinned with Bridlington, England.
a sub-prefecture of the
Aveyron department in
the Midi-Pyrénées region.
The town is best known for its sheepskin
, for which it led the French fashion
industry for two centuries.
viaduct, the tallest cable-stayed road
bridge in the world, which carries the A75 autoroute across the valley of the
Tarn near Millau, relieves the town of much traffic,
especially during the summer months.
Ian McEwan's award-winning novel
centers on Briony Tallis, a nurse in a London hospital in June
1940, to which wounded British and French soldiers evacuated from
In a poignant passage, she is comforting Luc
Cornet, a young soldier from Millau who is dying of severe head
wounds. In his delirium he talks of the town, of his family and his
where he worked,
and mistakes Tallis for his own fiancee.
After he dies, Tallis for a moment imagines the life she might have
had if Luc had survived and if she had married him and come to live
with him in Millau:
"She imagined the unavailable future - the boulangerie
in a narrow shady street swarming with skinny cats, piano music
from an upstairs window, her giggling sisters-in-law teasing her
about her accent, and Luc Cornet loving her in his eager
She wanted to cry for him, and for his family in Millau
who would be waiting to hear news from him.
But she coudn't feel a thing.
She was empty."