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Recommended Maps for France (Planning and Driving)
This page shows you my favorite maps for France with links for buying maps
from our affiliate TrekTools - France Maps. Click for maps of
France on this website (regions).
Buy France Maps Online
TrekTools.com: Maps of France: country, region, department,
city streets, etc. Get the detailed maps before you leave on your trip
to help with your trip planning. They are currently offering a 35% discount on most of their maps through the end of the year! The clearance sale includes most (but not all) of the normal city, provincial, regional and tourist maps of France. .
Why Have Maps?
I love maps. Before we go on a trip, I study my maps for hours memorizing
the town names in the areas we will be near. This helps when you are there
and driving; things feel more familiar, you can navigate using town name signs.
It helps with trip planning; when you read the guidebooks you already know
what towns are near where you will be based.
Understanding Map Scale
The short explanation is that small scale gives you less detail (covers
a larger area), large scale gives you more details (covers a smaller area). Read the long explanation here.
What Maps do I Need?
I recommend getting the following maps for a trip:
- Michelin Country Map of France, so you have
a map that shows the whole country. Use this for trip planning.
- Michelin Regional map for each region you are
staying in to use for trip planning and driving.
- Michelin Department map for each area you
will be based. This is useful for hiking trails and for extra details of
villages and roads.
- City maps for any cities you are staying in.
- Hiking maps if you plan to do any walking and hiking.
These are discussed in more detail below.
Michelin - Small Scale Country Map
Folding map, 1:1,000,000 scale. Good for overall planning, but not
detailed enough for driving.
Country Map of France: Scale: 1:1,000,000. Small scale map of the
entire country, good for initial planning and to get an idea of distances.
Also features a distance table with driving times between important cities.
To really study an area before you leave, and to have with you while
driving, you need more detailed region maps (see below).
Michelin Country Road Atlas
Michelin France Road Atlas: Spiral bound road atlas, 1:200,000. Good
for planning and driving. Buy this if you are traveling in more than one
region in France.
I like this road atlas because it has the same detail as the folding
regional maps, but is for all of France and is in the book format. However,
if you are only going to one region, get the folding map because it will
be lighter to carry.
Michelin Regional Maps
Folding maps, 1:200,000 scale. Good for planning and driving.
The Michelin regional maps are the best maps for trip planning and
for driving. These have enough detail to give you the information you
need. Use them when planning, to locate your vacation rentals and see
what the area is like. They have enough detail for driving in France.
Michelin makes a map for each region in France.
Click to order from TrekTools - France - Regional Maps or click on the region links below.
Maps are listed by region, with the regions in French.
Michelin Maps for Southern France
Provence, Cote d'Azur: Southern France, on the border with Italy and
the Mediterranean. This map includes: departments of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence,
Alpes-Maritimes, Bouches-du-Rhone, Hautes-Alpes, Var, Vaucluse, Ardeche,
Gard, Drome; major cities of Marseille, Toulon and Nice.
Languedoc, Roussillon: Southern France, bordering Provence, the Mediterranean,
and Spain - departments of Aude, Gard, Herault, Lozere, Pyrenees-Orientales,
Aveyron; major cities of Montpellier and Perpignan.
Midi-Pyrenees: Southern France, bordering Spain - departments of Ariege,
Aveyron, Gers, Haute-Garonne, Lot, Tarn, Tarn-et-Garonne, Dordogne, Lot-et-Garonne,
Herault, Aude, Pyrenees-Orientales; major city of Toulouse.
Aquitaine: Southern France, bordering the Atlantic and Spain - departments
of Gironde, Lot-et-Garrone, Landes, Pyrenees-Atlantiques; major cities
of Bayonne and Bordeaux.
See all regional maps: TrekTools - France - Regional Maps
Michelin Department Maps
Folding maps, 1:150,000 scale. Good for planning and driving.
Each region in France is made up of departments. These maps show one
or two departments in good detail.
These maps are more detailed than the Michelin Regional maps, but cover
a smaller area. I like to have one of these for an area where I am based,
but if you have to choose between a regional map or a department map,
get the regional map because it covers more area and has good enough detail.
Click to order from TrekTools - France - Department Maps or click on the links below.
Maps are listed by department, with the regions in French.
Departments in Provence
Alpes-Maritimes: South-western Provence - borders on Italy, seaside,
Bouches-du-Rhone, Var: South-eastern Provence - seaside, Marseille,
Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Hautes-Alpes: Central-eastern Provence -
mountains (Alps), Gap and Digne-les-Baines.
Drome, Vaucluse: Central Provence - the Luberon, Valence, Avignon.
See all department maps: TrekTools - France - Department Maps
Paris City Map
Paris: Folding map, 1:10,000 scale. A "must have" for a visit to this
large and magnificent city. You need good maps for the major cities you
will be in. Either buy your map ahead of time or get one as soon as you
Click to see other Paris maps: TrekTools - France - City Maps.
IGN - Carte de Randounnee
Folding map, 1:25,000 scale. These are the maps you need for walking/hiking.
You will find these for sale in France, in bookshops or larger grocery
stores (with a books section), or in tourist shops. I bought one in 2004
for 9.50 euro. These are perfect for hiking. www.ign.fr
The scale of a map is clearly indicated on the map cover and on the legend.
Scale indicates the level of detail and is expressed in a ratio showing what
one unit of measure on the map equates to in reality. For example 1:250,000
(1 cm = 2.5 km), meaning that one centimeter on the map covers 2.5 kilometers
of distance in reality.
- A Michelin map with a scale of 1:1,000,000 means that a centimeter on
the map represents 1,000,000 centimeters (10 kilometers) in reality. This
scale does not show great detail. It will show the main roads and towns,
but not all the smaller roads and towns.
- The Michelin map at 1:200,000, is a large scale and shows good detail
for planning or driving, but not enough for hiking. For hiking, you need
a scale of 1:25,000.
A map is considered "large scale" if it has more detail - more information.
A map with a scale of 1:250,000 is large scale (the ratio is large), but a
map with a scale of 1:1,000,000 is small scale (the ratio is small). I always
get these confused, so I googled a few references (see Resources at the bottom
of the page).
For more information
About.com - Map Scale: Article on Map Scale by Matt Rosenberg.
www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk: England map makers discuss map scale with some
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