Tuesday, August 27, 2013

France: Driving Day

On July 12, we said goodbye to Sarlat and spent most of the day driving from there to Arles, in Provence.  We started out on some smaller roads, and then got on the fast and easy auto routes.

Here's our car, the super cool Renault Megane.  Standard shift - Michael was a master of the traffic circles.  We were a little thrown by this weird French driving rule -  priorit√© √† droite - basically in smaller towns people coming in to your road from the right have the right of way, even at a T intersection.  What??

The drive took about 8 hours, with plenty of stops.  The best stop was at the rest area before the Millau Bridge.

From Wikipedia:

The Millau Viaduct  is a cable-stayed bridge that spans the valley of the River Tarn near Millau in southern France.  Designed by the French structural engineer Michel Virlogeux and British architect Norman Foster, it is the tallest bridge in the world with one mast's summit at 343.0 metres (1,125 ft) above the base of the structure.[3][4] It is the 12th highest bridge deck in the world, being 270 metres (890 ft)[1] between the road deck and the ground below.[5] Millau Viaduct is part of the A75-A71 autoroute axis from Paris to Montpellier. Construction cost was approximately €400 million. It was formally inaugurated on 14 December 2004, and opened to traffic on 16 December.[6] The bridge has been consistently ranked as one of the great engineering achievements of all time.[7][8] 

It was pretty cool.  So was the fancy rest stop (throughout France they were pretty impressive, even the food was good).  Here's a view from the window driving across the bridge.

And finally, here's a shot of us getting gasoline (the Megane took diesel but even that was expensive at about $6.60 a gallon).  This was an adventure as French pumps don't take American credit cards, and we had to figure out the routine for paying cash.  I cannot overstate Michael's stress about this.

The rest of the day's not particularly exciting photos are here.

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