After almost 1800 miles in our long-term Mini Coupé JCW over the weekend, I’ve got a much deeper understanding of our car.

Autocar snapper Stuart Price and I drove down to the Mini United festival at a blazing hot Paul Ricard circuit in the south of France. The journey from grey, cloudy Middlesex to the azure skies of Le Castellet and back (via a couple of detours) is one of the longest trips our Coupé JCW has undertaken.

After our visit to the remnants of the historic Reims circuit on the way down on Friday and our immersion in all things Mini on Saturday, the next morning we drove along the south coast to visit the breathtaking Viaduc de Millau.

Designed by Lord Norman Foster with bridge specialist Michel Virlogeux and built by French construction company Eiffage, the imposing structure was constructed to improve the A75 autoroute, which previously followed a  tortuous route through the valley of the River Tarn. Now, with the viaduct in place, traffic can zip from one side of the valley to the other.

It is the Bugatti Veyron of viaducts; the tallest bridge in the world, with one of the seven masts standing at 343 metres above ground level. More than a decade after construction began, I find it hard to imagine that the inhabitants of Millau ever get used to living in its imposing shadow. The seven masts reminded me of sentinels keeping watch over the town.