Top positive review
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Pretty good while it lasts
on 15 March 2009
Michelin 742 1:1m (2008)
I used 6 various Morocco maps in 2008 while research an overlanding guidebook. Michelin, the best map for Morocco, right? For regular touring it's fine but the thin paper Michelin uses does not lend itself to regular use, not helped by the fact that at over 1.5m wide the 742 is a big map. What's also missing is a Long/Lat grid; a possible explanation appears below*.
Rather than city insets you get five useful sub regions at 600k scale and even some useful climate stats. What I like most about this map is the intuitive 1:1m scale (a millimeter = a kilometre), the clear, functional Michelin design and the fact that it goes right down to Laayoune.
With the exception of a suspiciously straight piste heading west out of Taouz, roads and pistes wind around with believable intricacy (unlike the lazier RKH/Rough Guide). We get Michelin's well-known scenic `green road' feature (imitated on the GeoCentre and IGN country maps) which is pretty reliable but in places they go too far: if you're a woodpecker the forest cover is not to be relied on too closely unless for example the Taliouine region has experienced a recent epidemic of Dutch Elm disease. Depictions of dunes are the same and it's this sort of detail that you feel will never get updated.
As for the accuracy of secondary roads and pistes - a common failing on all Morocco maps - look carefully at the Key (in five languages including Arabic - nice touch). Unconventionally, uncoloured (white) roads with solid borders on both sides signify `Road surfaced' (route revêtue or `covered', as opposed to goudronée; tarred) but one dashed edge means an all-out piste. Surfaced with what you may wonder? It's a conveniently ambiguous way of saying they could be surfaced with asphalt, gravel, egg mayonnaise or rocks. Some of these solid-edged `white roads' are major double-width highways where the regular yellow colouring would be correct. As on other Morocco maps a few pistes and even white roads don't exist, while many more are missing. In places this data is up to eight years out of date but overall they don't get it as badly - or as conspicuously wrong as the RKH/Rough Guide.
Instead of banging out so-called `new editions' which often add up to no more than a new cover photo, Michelin should take a bold step forward and printed double-sided on plastic paper with grid lines; you could forgive the out of date detail because of the inherent good design. That is never going to happen so in my experience the 742 is not significantly better for back-country or piste driving than a more robust plastic and grided RKH/Rough Guide or IGN/Geo Centre.
* Try and draw on a grid and it soon becomes clear the map is tilted quite a few degrees east of north, probably because it's extracted from the top left of their `North and West Africa' 953 map which is north-centred on E16°. Without presumably expensive correction putting a grid over a 742 would expose this lean all the more clearly and might put customers off. Don't know what I'm on about? Don't worry it's not that important.