This is the upstart younger brother of the Pont de Tancarville that I was talking about. It opened in 1995, and is over 2km long. This photo gives some sense of the rollercoaster-esque experience which is crossing this bridge (indeed there’s a smaller ‘pre-bridge bridge’ just out of shot which is itself quite something).
I spent a year in France just east of these two bridges (in a flat, that is. I wasn’t living rough). Despite Normandy’s outstanding natural beauty I wound up in a very small town, nothing too grim in itself, but situated right in the middle of the petro-chemical heartland downstream from Le Havre. (The town in question, Lillebonne, is shown here; the Pont de Normandie is the more westerly crossing over the Seine, marked as the N1029; the Pont de Tancarville is marked as the N182).
It really hit home when a fellow teacher was driving us both to a larger town one evening (I forget where now, but somewhere east, in the general direction of Rouen. This is the same teacher/route that got me into Mister Eddy). Not long after setting off, I looked out of my window, and, in the dark, saw a number of lights.
“C’est quelle ville là-bas?” (What town’s that over there?) I asked, hopeful that there was somewhere close by with a little more of that certain special, um, ‘je ne sais quoi’ than Lillebonne itself.
“Euh, non… Ce n’est pas une ville, c’est une usine pétro-chimique” came the reply: “That’s not a town, it’s a petro-chemical refinery”.
You know that line in That’s Entertainment, “opening the windows and breathing in petrol”? I started my day that way more than once. That said, as well as being home to air-borne petrol, Lillebonne also housed a certain second-hand bookshop, so it certainly wasn’t all bad.