GPS or Michelin paper maps??

Old Mar 11th, 2012, 08:08 AM
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GPS or Michelin paper maps??

We will be driving around southern France for about 3 weeks later this year. Languedoc-Roussillon and The Luberon.

Trying to decide whether we would be better off with paper maps or relying on GPS to find out way around Provence. I can buy map for our GPS at about $45 or buy a few[ 3 or 4]maps for a bit less than that so the cost isn't a big factor. Just wondering how good GPS will function in the area or if we can get by with paper maps.

I do speak and read French, so that makes it a bit easier if we go paper.

Any input?
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Old Mar 11th, 2012, 09:01 AM
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Maps! You can find places to go, scenic (or fast) routes, scenic lookouts, places of interest you may not have thought of, etc, on a map. Michelin has green highlighted roads for scenery, lots of symbols that will help you plan, and can show you the big picture at a glance.

GPS is for getting somewhere, maps are for traveling. Plus, with a map of your destination, guidebooks, and a few highlighters, you can map out your routes in advance. On the other hand, a GPS will help if you get lost. Then again, so can a local resident.
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Old Mar 11th, 2012, 09:15 AM
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Don't the maps give you the opportunity to choose a different road at the last moment according to what looks interesting on the map (a green lined road perhaps indicating a scenic alternative)?
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Old Mar 11th, 2012, 09:23 AM
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GPS is for getting somewhere, maps are for traveling.
a GPS will help if you get lost. Then again, so can a local resident.

Well said! Food for thought, for sure.
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Old Mar 11th, 2012, 09:26 AM
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I agree, a map is a must. I also recommend this guidebook for your trip-

The information is excellent.
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Old Mar 11th, 2012, 09:37 AM
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We use both. We've travelled through southern France every year for the last 11 years, the first several times with only Michelin Maps, then 3 years with GPS & maps. We find that haveing the gps helps the "navigator" by giving the turn by turns when we get into a village so that the navigator (me) gets to enjoy the lovely village rather than keeping my eyes roving back and forth from the map to the street signs making sure to give the driver the directions in time to make the turn safely, the gps takes the pressure off.

The paper maps are essential for helping us plan our routes for the day and for helping to make sure that the gps is taking us along the route we want to go. There have been many times when the route the GPS indicated was a truly convoluted one. We were once following the GPS from a large road to a smaller road, then it sent us to an even smaller/narrower road, but we've traveled in the area enough that this didn't scare us unduly, but when the GPS indicated we were to turn onto what looked like a tractor track through a farmers field, we balked.

So we plan our route with the Michelin maps, then set the GPS with our destination and once we know the gps has us on the correct route I relax and though I keep the maps open on my lap for a quick check I can sit back enjoy the view and let "lady Gwendolyn" due all the work.

We also use ours a lot for finding hotels or camping sites in the area since we don't usually make reservations ahead of time. We can find the nearest gas station or supermarket or hospital easily. We have found this to be a very convenient feature.
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Old Mar 11th, 2012, 09:58 AM
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How about both? We don't even own a GPS and I have never felt the need for one until our most recent trip where we drove from Lyon to Chambéry to Annecy to Cluny to Beaune. From Beaune we explored the region for four days before driving on to Troyes and Reims.

I used a Michelin Road Atlas 1:200.000 plus some printed route directions from This worked very well until we got to Chambéry on a busy market day Saturday morning. The viamichelin instructions were hard to follow and we got off the route. After ten minutes wandering, it occurred to me that perhaps it would be nice to have a GPS to tell us how to get to a parking area.

Annecy was easy, but getting to the front door of our apartment building in the center of Beaune was also frustrating and time-consuming. Troyes and Reims were also challenging, especially Reims. A GPS would have served us well in those cities.

The road atlas was wonderful for the Burgundy explorations and we often diverted from main roads to check out something we saw on the map that looked interesting. Relying on GPS could inhibit those impulsive diversions and that would be a shame.

So good maps are still my primary requirement, but I think I will get a GPS, learn how to use it, and bring it along next time for extra help when needed.
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Old Mar 11th, 2012, 10:02 AM
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Celticharper - Agree with all you say. And, if I had seen your post first, I would not have had to write mine!
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Old Mar 11th, 2012, 10:19 AM
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I agree that both is probably best. The GPS will serve you well in the cities and towns where the scale of the map is too large to show local roads. But the maps will help you plan your vacation. I haven't used a guidebook in over a decade and plan all my vacations in France using the Michelin maps with supplemental help from tourist office websites. I think you've seen my trip reports and all of them have been planned exclusively with Michelin maps. I use the 1:200,000 scale because I have the atlas but the 1:150,000 scale have more detail and show the starred attractions in the corresponding Michelin Green Guides.
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Old Mar 11th, 2012, 11:06 AM
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I must admit I don't trust GPS - I have been in too many cars in which the GPS gave directions that were just completely wrong - or they provided one alternate when another one was better.

IMHO a paper map is a necessity - since you want to see the bigger picture and what choices you may have. If you are unsure of yourself and directions - or don't have a good navigator - then get a GPS if you want. But do understand how limited they are.
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Old Mar 11th, 2012, 11:10 AM
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I also agree with both especially if you have vocals directions from the GPS as well as the location of SPEED CAMERAS should there be any and a GPS can also give you directions as to points of interest, restaurants, and GAS STATIONS.
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Old Mar 11th, 2012, 11:25 AM
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We use both as well. The GPS is valuable for getting around in cities and towns as well as finding restaurants, tourist sites, etc.
The maps are better for seeing the big picture......and for those times the GPS loses a signal.
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