MAPS OF FRANCE are key to your successful travels, whatever your means of travel. You can try winging it, and, sometimes, this approach gets you to places you maybe never thought of visiting, often with enjoyable consequences. But, if time is precious, then it makes sense to get an appropriate map, and plot an itinerary first.
There are numerous formats to choose from, but the very basic one you'll need in a car (but not otherwise, it's too bulky and heavy) is a ROAD ATLAS. Either of the following is excellent, and neither is too bulky. But, bear in mind that the smaller your atlas, the more pages you'll have to contend with to find the right map page. Something about A4 in size is about right.
Right: Michelin Road Atlas, ideal for keeping in the car.|
France 2013 (Michelin tourist & motoring atlas - A3 spiral) (Michelin Tourist and Motoring Atlases)
Left: The excellent AA Road Atlas to France is perfect.|
Road Atlas France 2012
A somewhat more manageable option comes in the form of a COUNTRY-WIDE MAP, on which you can see the whole country at a glance. Great for checking general directions, less helpful for detailed navigation.|
France 2010 NATIONAL map 721 (Michelin National Maps)
If you are planning to stay more or less in one particular area, then a REGIONAL MAP is a great way of finding your way around. These give a superb level of detail in an overview sense.|
Normandie (Michelin Regional Maps)
At the nitty-gritty level, you can't beat a LOCAL MAP; the scale is excellent, you get to see all the little back roads and villages that don't appear on large scale maps and atlases. Yes, there are a lot of them, but you need take only those you need. But buy them in advance, not least because they're usually cheaper, but you cannot guarantee to get all the ones you might want locally.|
Correze, Dordogne (Michelin Local Maps)
If you plan to do some walking or cycling, you really need a map at a scale of 1:25000, such as this.|
St-Gervais-Les-Bains / Massif du Mont Blanc gps (Top 25)
ONE FINAL POINT: SatNavs that cover France are fine, provided you keep them up to date. If you don't own one, consider hiring one for your visit.
However, the artificial voice you hear, however seductive or manly it might be, is fairly appalling at pronunciation. Hopefully, things will get better in time, but for the moment the voice can be a distraction. It's not so bad for general driving, but in towns don't be tempted to look for badly pronounced street names - you'll just miss them!