Millau Viaduct 2004

Millau Viaduct 2004

© Gwenaële Moignic

Millau Viaduct

'An elegant, slender bridge soaring above a deep valley.' IABSE

Key Facts

One of the world’s tallest bridges at 336.4m

4-lane road bridge with a streamlined deck

8 cable-stayed spans


Millau, France

Crosses the Tarn River Valley

Carries the A75 south to Béziers and Montpelier

Designers / Engineers

Dr Michel Virlogeux (Structural Engineer)

Foster and Partners (Architects)


Cable-stayed suspension bridge

6 x 342m main spans & 2 x 204m spans

2,460m total length

Main contractors

Compagnie Eiffage du Viaduc de Millau


Began 16 October 2001

Opened 14 December 2004

The Bridge

One of southern France’s main north-south routes passes through Millau in the Tarn valley. It was increasingly becoming congested, especially in the summer due to holiday traffic on the route from Paris to Spain. A bridge was proposed to bypass Millau and a cable-stayed design with eight spans designed by the French engineer, Michel Virlogeux, and English architect, Norman Foster, was chosen as the preferred option.

Construction would require high concrete towers or pylons to be constructed from the valley floor. The highest was pylon 2, at 245m. The streamlined steel road deck was constructed at both ends of the viaduct, and pushed horizontally onto the pylons at a rate of 60cm every 4 minute cycle. Once the road deck was completed the masts were driven out across the bridge, erected on top of each concrete pylon and 11 pairs of cable stays installed per span. The total height of tower 2 is 336m, which was the world’s highest at the time of construction..

The Millau Viaduct received the 2006 Outstanding Structure Award from the International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering (IABSE) for being ‘an elegant, slender bridge soaring above a deep valley connecting two plateaux which was constructed using an innovative launching procedure which advanced the state of practice in bridge construction.’

Michel Virlogeux, the bridge designer and structural engineer, has designed many other long-span bridges including the Pont de Normandie, Vasco de Gama in Lisbon, and Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge (Third Bosphorus) in Istanbul.

© AAltruibe

Other long-span bridges