Using a GPS navigator

Feb 20th, 2007, 12:58 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 20
Using a GPS navigator

Hello all -- we are preparing for a trip to the Dordogne and Languedoc/Provence this June, and I have been able to glean a huge amount of information from all of you -- many thanks!

One thing that surprises me is that I have not seen any references to using a GPS navigator to help find the way around on the D-roads and in the towns. Have any of you used one there? If so, how well did it work out? Would you recommend renting a car that was equipped with one? I gather it adds about $10 per day to the rental cost.
jrg is offline  
Feb 20th, 2007, 01:28 PM
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I just consult a map and follow the signs - it's kind of a no-brainer.

The one time I was in a car equipped with a GPS system it kept telling us to make illegal U turns and led us into some guy's cow pasture.
StCirq is offline  
Feb 20th, 2007, 01:34 PM
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I have one booked at CDG in 2 weeks - will let you know how we get on
flybob is offline  
Feb 20th, 2007, 01:38 PM
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A lot depends on how accurate the database maps are. I've used my Magellan Roadmate 760 in Europe and found it very helpful and accurate even on the most remote roads.
Dukey is offline  
Feb 20th, 2007, 01:39 PM
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Thanks, St Cirq -- I just saw your earlier comment on GPS's about two minutes after posting my question!

I'll confess, I'm a techno-nerd, and my wife agrees with you: we are going to end up in a cow pasture for sure.

I have just bought a ViaMichelin unit, mainly because it has all the Michelin Green and Red Guide destinations as well as the roads, etc. Is there anyone else out there who has used a GPS navigator in the south of France?
jrg is offline  
Feb 21st, 2007, 12:19 PM
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I use a Garmin GPS on my bike and in the car. I have U turns switched off on mine, but it shows all the minor roads in this area.
Bobt is offline  
Feb 21st, 2007, 02:33 PM
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I use my TomTom One all over France and love it. A map is a good thing to have as well but GPS makes it so easy and takes out the guess work.
MorganB is offline  
Feb 21st, 2007, 02:43 PM
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I am sure you know this already, but the great thing about the roads in France is that they are signed with the direction to towns and cities. Even the smallest roads have arrows at virtually every intersection.
I have had my GPS with me but have only really used it for amusement. Compass perhaps if you loose your bearngs. Have a good map and you are set.
BTW - getting lost in Dordogne is one of those serendipity things.
robjame is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2007, 12:39 PM
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I used a Garmin iQue M4 (a combination pocket PC and GPS) for a month last September in the Dordogne. Worked great. We had the pleasure of getting lost many times but the GPS allowed us to choose the proper direction toward our final destination when faced with unexpected turns or forks in the road.

If you take one (rather than rent one there), insure you've got the correct set of maps loaded. Garmin devices sold in the USA are preloaded with a USA base map that should be replaced with a Western Europe base map. Also, you'll probably find that the detail of maps for SW France is significantly lower than that of the USA.

Steve Stearns
Steve_Stearns is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2007, 12:58 PM
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I have not used a GPS in Europe, yet. But, I have used a laptop based GPS (Microsoft Streets & Trips with GPS attachment) and will use the same type system (Microsoft Autoroute Europe) in Scotland this June.

From reading other people's experience, and from my own, one common problem people run into with a GPS is being led in some strange directions by the device. The beauty of using Streets and Trips on a laptop is that you can plot your route before you get into the car, and then review it, turn by turn, in order to look for crayz detours, idiotic U-turns, and the like. These are not usually hard to spot when you can see the route in full, and you can easily override non-sensical directions using this software.

Now, when you just get into a car, enter an address into a GPS device, and blindly follow the directions, you're more likely to end up with these strange detours. So, that's one thing that I would consider when deciding what kind of GPS to use. Even if I have a GPS device, I'm going to consult an old-fashioned map in order to make sure that the routing chosen by the device makes sense.
twk is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2007, 01:44 PM
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Hey jrg,

I don't have any personal experience with one but my father rented a car in Italy that was equipped with a TOM TOM and they did quite a bit of driving. It was his first time in Italy, first time in Europe actually. He said that he would have been lost without it and that him and his girlfriend would start to panic if the system stopped talking for an extended period of time. lol!!

If I were renting I would want one just for the added peace of mind! But then again I can't read maps for my life!!

aucho53 is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2007, 03:00 PM
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I used my Garmin Nuvi on my recent Netherlands-Germany-Denmark-Sweden drive and absolutely loved it. Buying or renting one is well-worth he cost. In the past I always got at least a little bit lost once a day which may have cost perhaps half an hour or more of vital touring time. But with GPS I didn't get lost once. And if you think such perfection might mean you won't discover "unknown" gems off-the-beaten path, my Garmin displays all kinds of points of interest I might not have known about otherwise. It was absolutely vital late at night when we couldn't find anywhere to eat in Bremen - I just hit the "Food" icon and pages of restaurants scrolled upon my screen.

The only negative is the cost of the maps. My Nuvi came with extensive North American maps installed in it, but I had to go out and spend another $300 for the European maps and an SD card to install them on.

Added bonus - the Nuvi also has currency and metric conversion, plays MP3 music, offers traffic reports and a translater for a few bucks more.
Zeus is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2007, 03:13 PM
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Instead of wasting your money buying the car rental agency's GPS for them - or making the map-seller's next boat payment, why don't you consider buying what's required to turn your laptop or palmtop into a GPS that also plays MP3s, stores your pictures, and does your taxes? You need two things: hardware and software.

o The hardware is what Microsoft calls a "locator" but the rest of the world calls a "receiver." It connects to your computer either through a cable or a Bluetooth wireless connection.

o The software program is Microsoft Streets & Trips in North America, or Autoroute in Europe.

You can buy the locator and software bundled by Microsoft for less than $100 (obsolete versions that work perfectly well for less than $50). And not have to pay again when you rent another car.
Robespierre is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2007, 04:39 PM
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I've got a Garmin with the European maps, and my wife, who used to be the navigator, loves it. Forget the maps and enjoy the scenery.

I think if I now told her she would have to look at a laptop to give me directions, she would shoot me.

To each his own. I love my Garmin and Robes loves his laptop.
Budman is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2007, 07:30 AM
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I'm with you, Budman -- I have used mapping software on a laptop with a GPS, loved it, and will continue to use it -- on a boat, where there is enough space for the laptop at the helm. But I'm a strong believer in things being the right size for the way they are being used, and I think a pocket-size unit is right for travelling by car and on foot.

Thanks for all your comments. I've got the ViaMichelin navigator, but I'll keep my eye on the signposts, maps and guidebooks too.
jrg is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2007, 07:37 AM
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Awwww, c'mon. Isn't half the fun getting lost and discovering what possibily could be the best out of the way spot ever??
queener is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2007, 07:43 AM
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I'm with you, jrg -- I have used a Pocket PC with built-in GPS and the Pocket Streets software (and hundreds of other things) loaded on it for several years.

In my opinion, a dedicated hand-held GPS is a waste of money.
Robespierre is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2007, 07:45 AM
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queener, actually I programmed my GPS in Switzerland to avoid toll roads. I was not in a hurry, rode around all the back roads, and saw some wonderful sites that I would never have seen on the auto routes.
Budman is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2007, 07:50 AM
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jrg, my husband and I luckily got one by accident last summer for our trip to Germany and Switzerland. They did not have the car we requested, so we ended with up a BMW with a GPS system. I will admit that all my months of 'map planning' and 'road mapping' went out the window. With GPS you don't need any of that. You can take the 'main routes' or the 'back road routes'. GPS was to us very flexible. We loved having it and didn't get lost once. My husband now says we won't go on another abroad trip without it.
katzen is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2007, 08:00 AM
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I don't know if you need it for a short trip to Europe, but we have been traveling all over Europe for months and looooove our GPS.

We are not techno types and have never used one before this trip. You can still get a little lost with them and they are not 100% , but 99.9% of the time they make traveling in a foreign land where you do not know the language WONDERFUL and easy.

If you have all the maps and speak and read French fluently, there probably is less of a need. We don't and did lots of traveling in France, so it was a godsend for us and made things sooooo much easier.

Tell her where to go and she takes you there the easiest way...nice!

( We got the top of the line Gamin..expensive ..but one of our best investments in for our trip around the world).

I could do an ad for them as I can not tell you how much more pleasant it is for me as navigator.
WTnow is offline  

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