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Recommended Maps for France (Planning and Driving)

Pauline Kenny

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

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.

Small Scale Maps for Planning

Click to order from TrekTools

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).

Large Scale Regional Maps for Planning and Driving

Click to order from TrekTools

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.

Click to order from TrekTools

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

Large Scale Department Maps for Planning and Driving

Click to order from TrekTools

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, Nice.

Bouches-du-Rhone, Var: South-eastern Provence - seaside, Marseille, Toulon.

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

City Maps

Click to order from TrekTools

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 arrive.

Click to see other Paris maps: TrekTools - France - City Maps.

Walking/Hiking Maps

IGN Apt hiking map

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

Maps and Scale

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.

Some examples:

  • 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 examples.

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