Millau (Occitan: Milhau, primarily spelled Milhaud in French) is a commune in the Aveyron department in southern France. It is located at the confluence of the Tarn and Dourbie rivers. It is surrounded by the wonderful landscapes of Gorges du Tarn, Causse du Larzac and Causse Noir.
By the 1st century AD there was a settlement on the spot, identified by Dieudonne du Rey late in the 19th century as Condatomagus, which was the major earthenware centre in the Roman Empire, La Graufesenque.
This major Roman site supplied most of the best pottery right across the Roman Empire for 150 years. It was not in the centre of the town but sat on the right bank of the River Tarn 800 metres (2,600 ft) away.
Yet even today, with much major new development, the centre of the old Roman and medieval town on the opposite (left) bank of the Tarn remains poorly excavated, and the newly renovated Maison du Peuple, almost on the site of the old Roman forum, saw no archaeology before major mechanical excavation for recent new very deep foundations.
Surprisingly, the local museum sits almost adjacent to this site.
In the Middle Ages the town had one of the major mediaeval bridges across the River Tarn. With 17 spans, if it were still standing it would be a major monument; but one poorly maintained span fell in the 18th century, and so the bridge was mostly demolished.
Just one span remains, with a mill, now an art gallery, as testament to this significant trading route from north to south across pre-Renaissance France.
In 1999, José Bové, a local Larzac anti-globalisation activist demolished the Millau McDonalds as it was being built, in symbolic protest of the decision by the Court of the World Trade Organization to allow the United States to overtax the import of the local cheese called Roquefort, because European Union refused import of US hormone meat. It was also an opportunity to protest against the spread of fast food, Americanization, and the spread of 'Genetically Modified Organisms/crops' (GMO).
The McDonalds was soon rebuilt, and Bové spent a few weeks in jail. He is now representative at the European Parliament.
In the 21st century, clear of traffic jams, the town is a tourist centre with one of the largest touring campsites in central France, wonderful landscapes all around, an amazing viaduct, and it is a major centre for outdoor sporting activity.
Millau is a sub-prefecture of the Aveyron department in the Midi-Pyrénées region.
The Millau Viaduct, the tallest cable-stayed road bridge in the world, which carries the A75 autoroute across the valley of the River Tarn near Millau, relieves the town of much traffic, especially during the summer months.
The town is best known for its sheepskin gloves, for which it led the French fashion industry for two centuries.
Tourism The glove museumThe Jardin botanique des Causses, a botanical gardenThe Place du Maréchal Foch, a square with 12th century arcades, one of which carries the inscription Gara qué faras or Watch what you are doingÉglise Notre-Dame-de-l'Espinasse. This church allegedly once possessed a part of the Crown of Thorns, making it an important pilgrimage centre in the Middle Ages. The church was destroyed in 1582 but rebuilt in the 17th century. The frescoes from 1939 are by Jean Bernard, the stained-glass windows from 1984 by Claude Baillon.The Passage du Pozous is a 13th century fortified gatewayThe Belfry, a 12th century square tower topped by an octagonal 17th century tower on the place Emma CalvéMillau is the main centre in France for paraglidingMicropolis; the city of insects, is at nearby Saint-LéonsThe medieval walled Knights Templar town of La Couvertoirade is nearbyThe nearby underground caves for Roquefort cheese production
International relations 
Millau is twinned with Bridlington in England.
In fiction 
Part of Ian McEwan's award-winning novel Atonement (2001) centers on Briony Tallis, a nurse in a London hospital in June 1940, to which wounded British and French soldiers evacuated from Dunkirk were brought. In a poignant passage, she is comforting Luc Cornet, a young soldier from Millau who is dying of severe head wounds. In his delirium he talks of the town, of his family and his father's boulangerie where he worked, and mistakes Tallis for his own fiancee.
After he dies, Tallis for a moment imagines the life she might have had if Luc had survived and if she had married him and come to live with him in Millau:
"She imagined the unavailable future - the boulangerie in a narrow shady street swarming with skinny cats, piano music from an upstairs window, her giggling sisters-in-law teasing her about her accent, and Luc Cornet loving her in his eager way. She wanted to cry for him, and for his family in Millau who would be waiting to hear news from him. But she couldn't feel a thing. She was empty."
The Millau countryside also played an important part in the French film Total Western, by Eric Rochant.