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Millau, city of art & history

Location

Millau is situated in the far south of the Massif Central, near the Languedoc, spread around the feet of a limestone plateau, in a flood plain at the confluence of the valleys of the Tarn and Dourbie rivers.

A Rich History

In the first century BC, the  first known settlement "Condatomagos" grew up at the confluence of the Tarn and Dourbie, on the other side of the river from the modern city. It was a market town where Ruteni and Mediterranean peoples traded and and exchanged their produce. It became known as a centre of Samian ceramic production .

The town as it is today has its origins in the eleventh century through the viscounts of Millau 
but its growth really started in the late twelfth century when King Alfonso II of Aragon built the tower overlooking the city.

From 1562, Millau became a southern stronghold of Calvinism: the ideas of the Reformation had seduced the notables of the city by 1558.

In the eighteenth century, carrying the ideals of freedom,
 the French Revolution allowed the return of Protestant exiles to Millau. Manufacturing of leather and gloves developed making Millau an international center of  glove-making by the mid-twentieth century.

Outstanding monuments

The "Pont Vieux"

Pont VieuxThis is one of the oldest bridges in the Rouergue, probably built prior to 1156.

It is mentioned for the first time by the Count of Barcelona and his nephew, the Earl of Millau, who granted toll rights to the abbot of Sylvanès.

Although characteristic of medieval bridges in style, all that is left of the work are two stacks of sandstone and tuff, from 
its original 17 arches, starting from the left bank of the Tarn and protected by  triangular cutwater piles. A mill, of relatively recent construction balances atop the structure, a memory of the industrial heritage of the city.

Square Tower of the Kings - known as the 'Belfry"

Beffroi d'AragonBuilding from  the late twelfth century and unique in the South of France. The tower is surprisingly contrasted between its tough, solid and cold exterior and the sophistication of its interior design.

It expresses fully the power and dominance of its owner, King Alfonso II of Aragon. Later in the seventeenth century the bell tower came to embody municipal autonomy.

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The Church of Notre-Dame de l'Espinasse

The archetype of a series of Romanesque buildings in the Rouergue.

The church consists of a polygonal choir aisle that extends between two confined buttresses and towers, connected by arches.

Inside, the nave with a single roof shows the
work done following the religious wars while the mural of the choir, depicts scenes from the life of the Virgin, the work of Jean Bernard, a twentieth century painter from Millau .

Ayrolle Washing House

Lavoir de l'Ayrolle

 

Built in 1749 at the request of Louis XIV. Classically it consists of porticoes surmounted by a balustrade and a pediment bearing the arms of the city. Raised outside the fortifications, it signals the outer limits of the old city.

 

 

 

Iron Market Hall

Halle métallique

 

In 1885 the City decided to build a new market hall  in the style of Baltard, famous designer of so many french market places. It was to replace the old site located on the rue Marshal Foch. By its innovative metal structure, it combines lightness and openness, with large interior spaces that reflect the new economic rationality of that time.

 

 

La Graufesenque

A Gallo-Roman potter's village.

The archaeological site of La Graufesenque is one of the most important ever discovered in Europe in terms of Gallo-Roman terra sigillata pottery. This was a village of over 650 potters who manufactured and exported millions of typical, red-varnished vases, pots and dishesacross the Roman Empire, from the 1st to the 3rd century AD.

Research is somewhat difficulthard in the soil of the present-day town where only a few discoveries have been made, but on the plain of Graufesenque on the left bank of the Tarn and Dourbie, which has remained agricultural
ploughing and flooding has brought pottery back to the surface. ppopular tradition attributes these shards and relics to the fairies, to the Goths or the English. The archaeological site, which covers nearly ten hectares, is perfectly preserved.

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Millau Museum

Trace the history of Millau, city of art and history...

Three different areas:

  • Millau in the time of the Gallo-roman potters of La Graufesenque
  • Millau, capital of leather and glovers
  • Millau during the creation of the Grands Causses

Plus temporary exhibitions, events, workshops and conferences

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Millau, city of art and history

On the 19 november 2010 Millau was awarded the label City of Art and History in recognition of its efforts to develop and improve its heritage.

Under this label Millau intends:

  • to enhance and enliven its heritage 
  • to offer activities for residents and visitors of all ages and at all times of the year 
  •  to educate residents and professionals in their environment and architectural quality along with the urban landscape of the town 
  • to develop a quality mediation on architecture, urban planning, landscape and heritage, particularly aimed at young audiences
  • and finally to offer the public high quality tourist visits conducted by trained personnel.
  • Visites Guidées et Thématiques de Millau
    1, place du beffroi
    Phone. : +330565600242
    Millau
  • Musée de Millau et des Grands Causses
    Place Foch
    Phone. : +330565590108
    Millau
  • Beffroi de Millau - Tour des Rois d'Aragon
    16, rue Droite
    Phone. : +330565590108
    Millau
  • Site Archéologique de la Graufesenque
    Avenue Louis Balsan
    Phone. : +330565601137
    Millau