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AA Road Atlas France (AA Atlases and Maps) Spiral-bound – 30 Nov 2008
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Spiral-bound, 30 Nov 2008
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The AA atlas is indeed clearer than the Michelin offering, mainly because it has less information in it, but also because the AA maps are at a slightly smaller scale (AA is 2.8 miles per inch, Michelin is 3.16 miles per inch).
Nice as the AA atlas is to look at, I certainly would not rely on it. At various places it claimed we were on a toll motorway, when we absolutely definitely were NOT. Also, for negotiating cities, the AA atlas is almost useless. Despite the better scale, when you get into the outskirts of a city, the AA maps fail to give some important road numbers, making it useless. I am not talking about side-streets here; I mean major trunk roads. The little city maps at the back are helpful, but often show the very heart of a city, which leaves a void between outskirts and centre. Yes, one can figure it out, but I can tell you that you do NOT want to be flipping between two so-so maps when you are approaching a traffic-packed six-lane motorway junction at 70mph, when it splits four ways into a city.
Take Rouen for example: On the AA maps (p35) the junctions are just blobs. The Michelin maps (p36) show most of the actual junctions, with lane directions and so on. Can you get off the northbound A13 onto the D7? With the AA maps you would never know. The Michelin map shows the junction lanes and directions.
Take Versailles also, for another example. We drove right through Versailles on our journey. The AA map (p58) shows it alongside Paris (which of course it is), but the detail is terrible. I defy anyone to find (fight) their way into Versailles armed with such an awful map. "But what about those nice city maps at the back?" I hear you cry. "What city map?" Sacrebleu! There is NO map of Versailles at the back! There is a nice double-page street map of central Paris (p324-325), but it does not extend to Versailles. For this we resorted to the Michelin atlas. It had a more useful map (p58). Versailles also just makes it onto the Paris map (p448) and there's a nice little street map of the city (p444). Phew!
Other reviewers have pointed out the annoying layout of the maps. I had many instances where a major motorway was right on the edge of a page, or a city was literally cut in half. Take the E5 A10, for example, going north from the Loire valley to Paris. It runs down the edge of umpteen pages, zig-zagging on and off the page. Very annoying! Many cities are cut in half (interrupted by binding or running straight off the page) - Dijon, Orleans, Brest, Metz, Reims, St Quentin, Le Havre, Lens, Bethune, to name a few of the more obvious ones.
In common with the Michelin offering, it has a get-creased-quick cover. We looked after ours, but the covers got creases all over them just by opening the atlases.
It makes some play on the cover about marking the speed traps. Well, they are on the Michelin maps, too. Oddly, some traps on the Michelin maps are not on the AA maps, and vice versa. That suggests to me that it would be foolish to rely on either if you plan to avoid a speeding ticket. Better to just obey the speed limits, perhaps.
We used both atlases for planning long journeys. We then marked the routes with post-it notes on the AA atlas, and followed it as we went along, as they were easier to follow for the simple motorway stuff. For getting you through a city (even using just the major roads) it was almost useless. For this we switched to the Michelin maps.
If you will be driving around France, I recommend getting the Michelin one. The driving-related information is simply much better. If your navigator is worried about the frighteningly dense detail on the Michelin maps (as mine was) then for peace of mind get the AA atlas, too.
Also it was sods law that every major junction I had to negotiate was on a page boundary. Was it planned that way? Probabaly not but it could have been planned not to be that way.
So all in all I am disappointed.
Other than that an atlas is an atlas is an atlas .........AAA Big Road Atlas USA 2009 (AA Atlases and Maps)
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