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The Perfect Blend of Climbing and Tourism in Millau, France

As the chapter of our lives in the American International School of Mallorca was coming to a close, my wife Ernita and I found ourselves yearning for one last European adventure. While I’ve always been more inclined towards off-the-beaten-path destinations, I knew that Ernita had her heart set on Paris – an easy choice for our anniversary celebration.

Paris, the city of my birth, is a bustling metropolis that doubles as a major international tourist hotspot. Yet, its commercial charm and omnipresent military security didn’t quite resonate with me. However, nestled within our long journey from Mallorca to Paris (ferry crossing included), was the quaint village of Millau – a gem that caught the climber in me.

Millau is a charming village that thrives on outdoor tourism, serving as the gateway to Gorge Du Tarn, known for its stunning white limestone cliffs – perfect for sport climbing. Its slightly remote location ensures it remains uncrowded, making it an ideal family destination. Our few days of climbing were nothing short of spectacular, with child-friendly crags and short approaches, much to Ernita’s delight.

If you’re considering a climbing trip to Gorge Du Tarn, remember a few things:

The routes are overhanging and white, so depending on the time of year, you might need to seek shade or sun.

Pay heed to “No Parking” signs. The local police are vigilant about issuing tickets to illegally parked vehicles.

Leave your traditional climbing gear home and bring 30 quick-draws. The routes here are lengthy.

An 80-meter rope is a must. Many of the routes require it due to their length.

Climbing with our toddler, Claire, did limit our vertical adventures somewhat. However, it was made easier with fellow climbers who also had toddlers and understood the need for constant supervision.

One of the highlights of our trip was the Millau Viaduct, a stunning cable-stayed bridge designed by Michel Virlogeux and Norman Foster to solve the valley’s traffic problem. This engineering marvel offered breathtaking views of the Tarn Valley.

For cheese lovers like myself, a visit to Roquefort-Sur-Soulzon, the birthplace of Roquefort cheese, is a must. We loved hearing the local legend about the creation of this famous cheese and, of course, the tasting session was the cherry on top.

In conclusion, Millau offers a rich blend of climbing experiences and cultural exploration. With hundreds of climbing routes for all skill levels and a welcoming community, it’s an ideal destination for an extended family climbing trip. Our time there was truly memorable, thanks in part to the helpful guidebook “Rock Climbing Europe (Regional Rock Climbing Series)”, which provided us with valuable information about the area’s best climbing spots. So, if you’re looking for a unique combination of French charm, outdoor adventure, and family-friendly activities, add Millau to your travel itinerary.

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