Maps - Here or There

I am going to be driving in England and France. We will be bringing a GPS. I know the importance of also having paper maps, and I already have a Michelin map of France. Should I pick a map for England up here, or should I wait until we arrive? We will be picking the car up at Heathrow. Our intention is to use it for the Cotswolds, then it will be driven to York.

Posted by Christi
Whitsett, TX, United States
808 posts

Personally I would buy it here as I would not want to spend my precious time there looking for a map.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
9110 posts

The Michelin would probably work okay for your needs, but it's not the best projection for the United Kingdom. It's also expensive.

The first service station or news agency you come to will sell the A-Z Map at some scale / area coverage which will be much better.

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
7870 posts

Buy it there. They will have good choices at any service station. Maps here are going to limited (and more expensive).

Posted by Cyn
Wheat Ridge, CO, USA
1239 posts

Your car rental desk should also provide you with a handy, free map to at least get you started. It won't be as comprehensive as a fold-out map or atlas, and the scale might or might not meet your needs in all situations, but as a quick reference that doesn't take up much space and is easy to access, we've often referred to the maps the rental company provided. They might also have more detailed maps for sale, or could recommend a place nearby to get them.

Posted by Christi
Whitsett, TX, United States
808 posts

I probably should have elaborated to avoid the snarkiness!

I can go online and buy pretty much any map made ahead of time - that's all I meant. That way I can become familiar with the map and maybe mark my possible routes ahead of time. Buying ahead also lets me research what maps might be better than others and select one is best rather than take my chances with one from the first service station I come to. I can also choose if I just want a plain old paper folding map or a more detailed kind in a book. The one thing about GPS is it gets you from point A to point B but it is hard to see ahead of time what might be near your route in between and worthy of a stop. Been there - in the UK - was NOT the best map - ended up buying another.

Same way I would never never tell someone visiting the US to stop at the first gas station and buy a map of the US - there all good there - right?

For me that works - doesn't mean trip is scheduled that tight or not wanting to mingle with locals. Holy cow! Lighten up.

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
5640 posts

Thanks everyone. My instinct was to just get one there. I can get Mapquest directions to our B&B before we leave, and as I said earlier we will have a GPS. We can certainly spare 10-15 minutes (even more) to pick up a map once we land. I wasn't sure what would be available once we leave Heathrow, as I've never been there before.

I really only need a map of the Cotswolds. It should be pretty easy to get from there to York. We don't plan for much, if any, sightseeing along that drive.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
9110 posts

You'll go out either the M4 or the M40. No matter which, you're going to find freeway rest areas way before you get close to the Cotswolds and all will sell maps.

If you're really nervous, stop in a WHSmith on your way out of the terminal. They should have what you need.

Once you get into everwhat village you're staying, you'll have to ask or depend upon the gps for exact location. It's been a while since I've even glanced at the A-Z Cotswolds, but there's no way it could be of such a scale that it would show minor streets.

Posted by Sharon
Santa Rosa, CA, USA
1056 posts

I did buy my AZ map in England many years ago. But, I've noticed that Barnes & Noble carry the exact same map in a smaller version than mine. I would buy it here so you can be studying it before you go. Sometimes things of interest pop up that you didn't know about. If I see something that has potential I look it up on the internet to check it out.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
11639 posts

My favourite Cotswolds map is the Goldeneye Cotswolds Map and Guidebook. Have a look at http://www.amazon.com/Cotswolds-Map-Guidebook-One/dp/1859650635/ref=sr_ob_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1406313418&sr=8-1

I have, and swear by, the prior version. It may be a bit out of date but most of the roads haven't moved, nor the attractions.

It is on a plasticised paper so less vulnerable to tearing and water. I paid £3.95 for mine several years ago. It is available for used import on the US site and a few used for low money on the UK site. It would likely be much more available, if it still is, at newsagents in towns in the Cotswolds rather than other sources.

The OS maps are used by walkers for best topo features and clear walking paths, and I have a pretty big collection of them, but the price adds up, I find them bulky, and if you aren't walking the detail may be more than you need.

Posted by Colette
Home_Sweet_Home :-)
507 posts

Just a thought . . . Atlases are more detailed than a fold up map. See if your library carries one & make copies of the pages you need. Atlases usually show small towns while a fold-out map may not. Again, just a thought.

Posted by Thomas
Hermosa Beach, CA, USA
113 posts

We rented a car at Heathrow in 2012 and drove to the Cotswolds, and all around southern England for three weeks. We took our own Garmin and turned down the rental agency's satellite navigation option. After driving for about 50 feet I realized that the car had the navigation system anyway. (It's not like they could pull it out of the dashboard.) The car's system was much better than our portable Garmin. We never had a serious map.

Posted by Rebecca
Nashville, TN, USA
1076 posts

I have always relied on the AA maps, printed in Great Britain, for regional foldout maps. These are the navy blue maps at the bottom of this page from their website:

http://shop.theaa.com/store/uk-1

You can order online, or pick one up at a Barnes and Noble bookstore. The last one I used was South East England, Road Map 3, and it was accurate and had great detail. The sections of England are numbered, so check online which sections you'll need. (You may need Maps 2, 5, and 7.) I'm sure their road atlases would be good also, so if you bought one of those instead of the maps, that would reduce the number of maps you're juggling with in the car.

Posted by Carroll
Pittsburgh, PA, USA
1456 posts

Well I agree with Christi. I don't want to waste any time or effort on things like looking for a map if I don't have to. And it's not because I have every minute scheduled. We were in England one time and had a map that covered about half the places we were going that a friend lent me. I planned to buy another map when I got there. We stopped at a number of places mostly on the highway and could not find a decent map in any of them. Don't assume you can find a good map anywhere. BTW we managed to get where we were going by following signs but I would have much preferred to have a decent map. We had to make some last minute guesses but lucky we guessed right.

Posted by Jane
Lebanon
648 posts

We do not have any experience driving in England....but drive all over France. We spend a lot of time on small rural roads and have found that in addition to our own GPS that we have had and used there for years we rely on maps we have purchased in France and find that they are much more detailed....keep in mind that we photograph small out of the way villages when we are there.If you are going to drive mostly larger roads or the autoroutes you will not need a detailed map .We spend a lot of time in Burgundy and have 2 maps that we have had for 10 or more years...one was from a friend who owns a gite and one we purchased in Avallon France .There are places on that map we have never seen on other maps and they are so tattered they are literally falling apart.

Posted by Maryam
Washington, DC
766 posts

I too like to have the map ahead of time in order to kind of look over it and get a feel for directionality and points of interest. If you have the GPS, then get a map that details the Cotswold specifically, like the one Nigel referenced, rather than a more comprehensive map of all of England.

Posted by Pamela
New York City, NY, USA
4206 posts

I think that the answer to this question partly depends on how much you love maps. Some of us pore over maps, plotting different ways to get places, looking at the spatial relationships of the things we want to see, uncovering new places to visit. If you're one of those people, then you need to buy a good map a enjoy looking at it as you plan your trip. If you just need something as a back up for your GPS, buy it when you get there.

I'm a planner. I have a whole drawer full of maps of Scotland and other places.

Pam

Posted by Rebecca
Nashville, TN, USA
1076 posts

Pamela, I am also a map freak. I have a whole drawer full of maps of England. The OS maps are great; have a collection of those. Also have a great book on hiking Hadrian's Wall, which came with a great map. My dad was a navigator with the U.S. Air Force during WW2, and he got me started with my map obsession.

Andrea, the OS maps are great, but expensive.

Posted by Christi
Whitsett, TX, United States
808 posts

Map freak as well. I can lose 3 or 4 hours at a time on Google maps!

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
5640 posts

Thanks again for your replies. I am a map freak too! I might look for something here. If I find something better there I will probably get that! ;-)

Posted by Pamela
New York City, NY, USA
4206 posts

Yep, buying a map here will not deter a true map person from purchasing one there. :)

I really think I should have majored in geography!

Pam

Posted by Kevin
West Sacramento, California, USA
256 posts

Andrea,

I will bring my atlas of the UK next Saturday. It is too big to pack and carry, but we can make copies of relevant pages.

Kevin

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
5640 posts

Thanks Kevin. I have plenty of Paris maps that I won't need to take on our trip. I also have a Paris par Arrondissment map book that you might find really helpful when you go. If you will be at the November meeting I can bring it to you. If not we can meet somewhere.