‘ A spectacular feat of engineering, MiLlau Viaduct is a cable-stayed bridge spanning the Tarn River valley in southern France. Designed to ease vacation traffic, it has become a tourist sight in itself.
Le Viaduc de Millau has become one of the sights of the South of France. Opened in 2004, and designed by architects Foster and Partners and structural engineer Dr Michel Virlogeux, it entered the record books as the world’s tallest vehicular bridge because
one of its seven concrete piers stands a mighty 804ft (245m) tall. The eight-lane steel roadway forms a long arc high above the valley floor, allowing traffic to bypass the medieval town of Millau. The bridge has been recognized as an amazing technical feat, but it is also an inspiring design.
Each of its seven piers is topped with a 295ft (90m) cable-stayed mast, giving it an elegant sail-like profile that looks particularly impressive when it’s illuminated at night. Travelers speeding between Clermont-Ferrand and [tiers, or driving onward to Spain have reason to be grateful on two counts: first, the bridge has cut the journey time by four hours in peak vacation season; and second, it has added to the appeal of this beautiful river valley.
Experience great endurance race
For thrill-seeking motorists, here are three more great tests that promise exotic foreign travel, bad roads, team camaraderie, and plenty of sand in your eyes.
1. Dakar Rally The Dakar, as it’s known in racing circles, is one of the ultimate road adventures. It is also one of the few leading motor-racing events where amateurs make up the bulk of competitors. It started in 1978 as a run from Paris to the Senegalese port of Dakar, but later shifted its official starting point, and since 2006 it has begun in Lisbon. Motorcycles, cars, and trucks all compete, and the most testing sections of the 5,500 mile (8,900km) course are the Western Sahara and the Adrar Plateau in Mauritania.
2. Baja 1000 This off-road race in Mexico is open to motorcycles. but a four-wheel drive is handy on the rough terrain. The usual course runs from Ensenada to La Paz and is around 1,000 miles (1,600km). The biggest hazards along the route are the holes or obstacles
spectators sometimes add to the course to maximize the roadside entertainment.
3. Plymouth—Banjul Challenge This testing three-week race for the hard-up and certifiable has been run since 2003, originally to Dakar, but now to the capital of the Gambia. The most crucial rule is that competing cars must cost less than $200 to buy and pre-rally modifications have a maximum ceiling of $30. This means some hapless entrants barely make it beyond British shores in their bangers. Those vehicles that do triumphantly reach the finish line having braved desert sandstorms and breakdowns are auctioned off for Gambian charities.
Go to skiing in the desert
Perhaps it’s human nature to want what we don’t have. While residents of chilly northern Europe or the US may yearn for the sun, some inhabitants of sweltering Dubai hanker after pristine white snow.
It may be sweltering outside, but if you head to Ski Dubai you can get an almost authentic Alpine chill through your bones. You can even stay in accommodation that overlooks the piste. This is the third-largest indoor ski slope in the world with five runs of varying difficulty. The longest is 1,300ft (400m) with a 197ft (60m) descent. The complex uses home-produced real snow and offers ski lifts, loan of winter clothing, and ski gear, or snowboarding kit and lessons.
There’s also a dedicated snowman-building zone for over-excited children and adults. For an almost-authentic alpine experience, visitors can stay in the Kempinski Hotel overlooking the slopes. Deluxe ski chalets offer the spectacle of alpine views on one side, and desert and beach on the other.
While this is ambitious, it is nothing compared with Dubai Sunny Mountain Ski Dome, opening in 2008. Along with an artificial mountain range, snow maze, ice slide, and revolving ski slope, it promises genuine polar bears.