Maps vs Road Atlas France road trip

Old Jun 27th, 2013, 07:08 PM
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Maps vs Road Atlas France road trip

Working on maps, talked to local store here today, but they did not seem to have experience.

Roughly we will be driving from Chartres, through the Loire, to Dordogne and then from Carcassonne, to Aigues Mortes, to St. Remy. We will be exploring the Luberon and area around St. Remy.

The recommendation today was to buy a Michelin Road Atlas for France instead of iindividual maps. Looking at the size of the individual maps the road atlas did seem better. And it is more cost effective to buy the atlas, considering the route we are taking. Of course tthey did not have one.

I I googled Michelin Road Atlas for France and found that there were two.

We will have a GPS, but will be much more comfortable with a good road map.

Do you have recommendations?
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Old Jun 27th, 2013, 07:36 PM
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For our extended driving trip in Europe I purchased a Michelin Road Atlas for each country. I then took apart each atlas and took only the pages we needed (which ended up being less than 25% of each atlas). I purchased one of those silver binding rings at the office store and attached all the pages together in the upper left corner. I put the atlas in a large manilla envelope to protect it.

We also had GPS but nothing beats periodically glancing at a map to verify you are going the right way or confirming approximate distances.
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Old Jun 27th, 2013, 08:31 PM
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I like the regional maps better than the atlas. I think they have more detail, especially if you drive the N and D roads. The Atlas would be OK for the auto route, but I really like driving the smaller roads. Both N (national) and D (local/district) roads are perfectly good and take you through smaller towns and villages. You would need several regional maps for your trip, which might cost more, however. You are wise to augment the GPS with maps. I'm a map person, so can spend hours pouring over them, planning a route. Good luck and born voyage.
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Old Jun 27th, 2013, 09:06 PM
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I also prefer the regional maps, especially for planning an itinerary. Once you have them you can photocopy your day-by-day itinerary and use those like an atlas.
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Old Jun 27th, 2013, 10:16 PM
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Michelin makes 17 Regional and 8 Zoom maps of France. The detail is far better than using an Atlas (http://www.michelintravel.com0. An Atlas is good for use at home to plan your overall trip, but the detail is lacking.

The latest report on using a GPS in the NY Times was that they were wrong 65% of the time, os be aware when using one.
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Old Jun 27th, 2013, 10:47 PM
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If you haven't got a proper bookshop handy, move.

If that's too drastic (personally I can't imagine living anywhere more than 15 mins from a bookshop with a decent range of foreign road atlases. Tried it once, and moved within a month), rethink your strategy.

You can do all your advance planning without an atlas on the web. Once in France, every decent hypermarket, and all petrol stations with a decent convenience store, sell the current Michelin 1:200,000 Atlas Routier for about €15 (finding decent book shops in most of France is nigh impossible outside Paris). It has competitors (none, I think, as suitable for what you're planning) - but the place to review them all is in a shop with them all before you: not on the basis of other people's views

The Atlas Routier is perfectly fine for cross-country driving, provided your navigator's in-car eyesight in up to it. Women frequently blame it for their inability to tell male drivers where to turn. But we've finally agreed it's Mrs F's fault, not Michelin's, and have re-assigned driving/navigating responsibilities for French country roads. She drives better than me anyway.

Maps are fine in countries with a decent footpath system (ie not France, though I can see their point if you're biking). They're useless in cars in countries like France with decent national road atlases.
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Old Jun 28th, 2013, 12:29 AM
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The various atlases are what I have used for years and the detail in an 1" thick book of maps of just France is not lacking. The Michelin Atlas has every D road in the country clearly marked. You can usually pickup a Michelin Atlas for around 20€ at gas stations or book stores. It's very easy to keep organized with the atlas, just keep the book open to the appropriate page as you travel.

Individual maps are fine as well but you'll spend a lot more money and they can be awkward to unfold and refer to while you are driving.
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Old Jun 28th, 2013, 02:59 AM
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For use in the car, we prefer the Atlas. We also get the yellow maps and use those to plan the next day's drive--panoramas, green roads, and other points of interest.
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Old Jun 28th, 2013, 07:39 AM
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Another vote for the Michelin 1:200,000. You can buy it in advance, although it is cheaper in France.

Although I wouldn't attempt a driving trip without a good map as my basic planning tool and reference, I prefer to use one in combination with a GPS. While maps are better for planning, a GPS has one feature that a map doesn't--it can tell you exactly where you are at any given moment. If you combine the two with an intelligent human navigator, then you're likely to have the best experience.
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Old Jun 28th, 2013, 09:31 AM
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<While maps are better for planning, a GPS has one feature that a map doesn't--it can tell you exactly where you are at any given moment. If you combine the two with an intelligent human navigator, then you're likely to have the best experience.>

Couldn't agree more with twk. During our recent trip, I used the GPS in my Nexus 7 with a saved Google map of the area to do exactly that, along with a Michelin departmental map. It's confirmation that you are on the right road and headed in the right direction.
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Old Jun 28th, 2013, 09:38 AM
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Knowing by now exactly what your route entails, I would buy the atlas. There is absolutely no need for you to have the mammoth and super-detailed regional maps, considering where you're going. The atlas has every D and N road on it, and is much easier to handle. The only downside to the atlas can be that where one page "meets" another it's sometimes hard to decipher.

It's practically impossible to use those regional maps as you drive - they are huge and block the windshield. If you want to use them for planning, fine, but your trip is kind of an overview of several areas, so I can't see you'd be needing them. As for GPS, it irks me.

I also always have an IGN map of the entire country with me.
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Old Jun 28th, 2013, 09:52 AM
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The GPS in my tablet doesn't talk to me or navigate. It simply shows where I am on a map. A GPS that was constantly talking to me and trying to tell me which way to go would irk me too.
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Old Jun 28th, 2013, 10:13 AM
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another vote here for the atlas. it's got more than enough detail for driving across country and when you get to your major destination, you can always buy a more detailed map if you feel that you need one.
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Old Jun 28th, 2013, 11:00 AM
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IMHO regular paper maps are much better than either a GPS (which can be brainless) or a large book which can be really difficult to read while driving.
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Old Jun 28th, 2013, 11:01 AM
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IMHO regular paper maps are much better than either a GPS (which can be brainless) or a large book which can be really difficult to read while driving.
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Old Jun 28th, 2013, 11:39 AM
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The atlas comes in two sizes. One is indeed large; the other is half the size and very easy to use.
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Old Jun 28th, 2013, 02:31 PM
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We have traveled throughout France using the red Michelin "France" map PLUS the yellow regional maps for each region in which we are driving. For the most part, these have worked extremely well and the one time we brought an atlas, we wished we hadn't.

Zorro's tips for driving in France:

1. Study the maps for each day's journey ahead of time. Know the names of the larger cities in the direction of your travel even tho you are not going to them. Roads in France are signed by destination, NOT by road number (although this is improving). Therefore, if you are going to St. Remy (just an example) you need to know that the directional signing may say "Avignon."

2. Fold up the yellow maps so that only the portion you actually need is visible. You will probably NOT need the red map during the drive if you have studied it sufficiently the day/night before. A yellow highlighter and red pen are helpful.

3. On a roundabout (Rond point), the navigator should say "one o'clock" or "nine o'clock" to indicate which road. "Go there" is not especially helpful.

4. You can verify you are on the correct road by looking for the next village/city shown on the yellow map on the road signs you see as you are driving.

5. If all else fails, stop and ask directions. It's quite fun but don't be frustrated by the different advice you will receive! I actually had one gentlemen get in his car and lead me to the correct turnoff.

GOOD LUCK and keep your sense of adventure.
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Old Jul 3rd, 2013, 04:21 PM
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My Garmin nuvi with a France map was invaluable for driving in much of France in 2011. I also took along the Michelin Road Atlas (available from online US sellers for about $20). I brought the GPS home but left behind the 2lb. atlas. Wanted to get those purchases home! I'm about to buy another atlas for this fall. Why? We used the atlas when we wanted to wander in the countryside. We'd pick a village ~20 km distant and let the GPS guide us. Then on to another, etc. It made for some wonderful day tripping.

And for roundabouts, the GPS was great. "Take third exit." We'd count out loud together and only a couple of times needed to take a second circuit. No map reading does that.

For the few days on bikes, I tore out an atlas page - except in one case where I had made 200% copy of part of it beforehand since I knew where we'd bike.

My bottom line - both sure are nice. I could have made it without the atlas but it helped when planning, wandering and biking. The GPS was essential.
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Old Jul 3rd, 2013, 06:14 PM
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> Sure it does. There's always a sign telling you what the next town is on that roundabout exit. All you have to know is what that town is. And maps will tell you that.

GPS is far from essential. If you like it, fine. To me, it's another electronic disruption during times I like to have peace and quiet and navigate my way from A to B, which I'm quite capable of doing with paper maps and atlases.
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Old Jul 3rd, 2013, 06:52 PM
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I usually buy individual maps but I do also have a very good Michelin "Tourist & Motoring Atlas" of France in a 1/200,000 scale (1 cm + 1 km) and it seems a good deal at $20 US in 2003 so probably a bit more now. It's comprehensive, spiral bound and heavy so you'd want to take the pertinent pages out but there's an index, a must I think, so you might have a look online.

I found this one when it was several years old at an online remainder book site and paid next to nothing. It's been very good for planning purposes. Look on salebooks.com, bookcloseouts.com, even Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble/BN.com for used copies.
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