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Millau (Occitan: Milhau) is a commune in the Aveyronmarker department in southern Francemarker. It is located at the confluence of the Tarnmarker and Dourbiemarker rivers.

History

By the 1st century AD there was a settlement on the spot, identified by Dieudonne du Rey late in the 19th century as Condatomagus, which was the major earthenware centre 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 away.

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 Peuple, 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 site.

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.

Just one span remains, with a mill, now an art gallery, as testament to this significant trading route from north to south across pre-Renaissance Francemarker.

In 1999, José Bové, a local Larzac anti-globalisation activist demolished the Millau McDonalds as it was being built, in symbolic protest of the spread of fast food, Americanization, 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 Chirac.

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.

Millau is twinned with Bridlingtonmarker, Englandmarker.

Administration

Millau is a sub-prefecture of the Aveyronmarker department in the Midi-Pyrénéesmarker region.

Tourism



Economy

The town is best known for its sheepskin gloves, for which it led the French fashion industry for two centuries.

Transportation

The Millau viaductmarker, the tallest cable-stayed road bridge in the world, which carries the A75 autoroute across the valley of the River Tarnmarker near Millau, relieves the town of much traffic, especially during the summer months.

In fiction

Part of Ian McEwan's award-winning novel "Atonement" (2001) centers on Briony Tallis, a nurse in a London hospital in June 1940, to which wounded British and French soldiers evacuated from Dunkirkmarker were brought. 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 father's boulangerie 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 way.
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."


See also



References



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