I have just returned from a fantastic road trip across France to the Spanish city of Barcelona. Our route took us from Calais in the extreme north of France, through Clermont-Ferrand in the Massif Central, an elevated section of France where the autoroute reaches altitudes of over 1200m above sea level. Further south the autoroute crosses the Viaduc de Millau, one of the tallest bridges in the world, which spans (and rivals as a spectacle) the Gorges du Tarn near Millau in the Aveyron département. After leaving the Massif Central, we drove through the Mediterranean south coast alongside Montpellier and Perpignan, before crossing the border with Spain to the east of the Pyrenees.
Five nights in Barcelona were barely enough to see what this amazing city and its surrounding area has to offer, but we managed to see some of the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi’s most famous work, including the Parc Güell, and the simply breathtaking Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Familia (Church of the Holy Family), which, nearly 100 years after Gaudi’s death, is still under construction to this day. To the north of the city, the monastery of Monserrat lies 1,000m above the surrounding countryside on one of Spain’s most beloved mountains.
Our route back took us through the Pyrenees to the medieval French fortified city of Carcasonne, and back to the Viaduc de Millau where we approached from beneath, rather than crossing it, to get a different perspective. As we approached Clermont-Ferrand for a second time, the skies over the Massif Central gave us a rather impressive send-off with one of the most stunning sunsets I have ever seen.