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Make sure you have a map to avoid being under the Milllau Viaduct when you wanted to be on it!

Don’t even think of setting off in your motorhome without any maps!

Most of us are now somewhat dependent on GPS units or our phones for navigating to new destinations and they offer a very stress-free way to travel but don’t forget to bring a map too.

Make sure you have a map to avoid being under the Milllau Viaduct when you wanted to be on it!

Make sure you have a map to avoid being under the Millau Viaduct when you wanted to be on it!

Satellite navigation is great for keeping you on the right route and getting you out of trouble when you are lost but you really do need an atlas or a map for journey planning, identifying potential stopping points, interesting drives and just making sure you are heading for the correct destination

In countries with thousands of years of history there are quite a few duplications when it comes to town names (there are five towns or villages called Chateauneuf in France for example) so it is a really good idea to look at a map before following your device just to make sure you have a vague idea which direction you should be heading in. A decent atlas will also show you which department (county) your destination is in and that will really help when identifying which of the Chateauneufs you are aiming for.

Even with maps and GPS you can still get lost so allow extra time and enjoy the long cuts you take

Even with maps and GPS you can still get lost so allow extra time and enjoy the long cuts you take

We offer GPS units to our campervan rental clients and the “Home” setting is always programmed to navigate back to our depot. One client hit “Home” on the last day of their trip to Brittany but some wag had changed “Home” to Budapest and they drove for a good three hours before discovering their long cut as they had no clue which direction they should be travelling in. Taking a quick look at a map would have greatly reduced the chances of this happening!

For any country you plan to visit (and certainly the one you are starting your trip in), we suggest you buy both a single sheet map for route planning and a good atlas for more detailed planning. A good quality atlas will give you tons of useful information from identifying height restrictions to finding a lake for a swim on a hot day. You can see the size of any town at a glance, spot steep hills, see service stations on the autoroute, figure out detours when sitting in traffic and even identify outstanding view points to stop and enjoy.

For France we like the Michelin atlases and maps and you can order them online and have them sent to your home (or to us so they are here when you arrive). There are many options but these are our preferred ones:

The detail in this Michelin atlas will give you a huge amount of information and detail compared to your GPS

The detail in this Michelin atlas will give you a huge amount of information and detail compared to your GPS

These Michelin maps are great for journey planning

These Michelin maps are great for journey planning

We are not averse to having every navigational aid known to man with you on your trip (indeed they are highly recommended for domestic harmony) but we reckon one in three of the devices our clients arrive with do not work as expected. Don’t arrive without a map which will never suffer a technical hitch or fail to find the satellite so you can at least set off in the right direction.

Plan your journey ahead using a map and atlas to find the most interesting roads

Plan your journey ahead using a map and atlas to find the most interesting roads

Finally, do take a moment to find your patient, inner self before you embark upon a journey through a foreign land in an unfamiliar vehicle on unfamiliar roads and allow time for getting lost because you will. If you are doing most of the driving and your other half is doing most of the navigating, always blame the GPS for errors and never be tempted to utter unhelpful words such as “How the hell should I know, you are the one with the map”, no matter how lost you become.

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