French place-name pronunciation is filled with traps, because, like English, the language has ‘rules’, but as many exceptions as the rules themselves. ‘Poulx’ is my personal favorite. How would you pronounce it?
Today’s stage begins in Millau, pronounced ‘Me-yo’, more or less, but definitely not ‘Mill-ow’ or ‘Meow’ (the way I was doing it before I first visited the town in 2009.
Millau has special significance for 44|5 Cycling Tours, too, because it is where we start our ‘signature’ tour, HighRoad Cevennes. The area around Millau is fantastic riding country, with deep gorges, high plateaux (called causses) and tons and tons of climbing in every direction. Throw in a few Templar villages and the amazing structure below and you’ve got yourself a pretty good base for a few days of stunning cycling.
If you watch the stage from the gun today you will see some spectacular views of the Millau Viaduct, one of the only bridges I think I’d drive 3 hours just to see. It’s a work of art. This bridge is part of the A75, France’s newest and highest highway, which was built to help Parisians attack the south of France from another angle (the A7 down the Rhone Valley has been around forever). Before the highway was built a couple of decades ago all traffic was funneled through the center of Millau, probably making bakers and cafe owners happy, but causing a traffic nightmare all throughout the summer.
I don’t know the rest of the stage, but from the map and profile I just looked at, I think I would like to.