Reviews - What do customers think about Michelin Germany: Benelux, Switzerland, Austria, Czech Republic: Tourist and Motoring Atlas (Michelin Tourist and Motoring Atlas : Germany, Austria, Benelux, Switzerland, Czech Republic (Spiral))?
A good value, but map quality is weak Sep 4, 2008
This atlas is a great value at $16.32, but it suffers from very bad design. Here are the design failures I've experienced:
* This is actually five separate atlases jammed together into one book. Each of the five has its own scale, its own index, and--unfathomably--it's own LEGEND. The legend for Germany is different from the legend for Belgium. There are more than SIXTEEN PAGES of legends--eleven at the front, five scattered through the indexes, plus "special symbols" identified on pages XXII and XXIII.
* The only broad-scale map showing all of the atlas's area doesn't show a single road. There is no all-encompassing map connecting the roads across the five independent maps. If you're driving from one country to another, you have to flip back and forth to get any sense of the shortest route.
* There are no scales on individual pages (which is especially important as each country has its own scale). There's no way to see at a glance from the detailed page that one centimeter is equivalent to 3 kilometers in Germany or 4 kilometers in Switzerland. To make up for this, a great many road segments have a number indicating the distance in kilometers from one intersection to the next. The map is cluttered with thousands of small numbers (and perhaps crowded out the names and numbers to identify the roads).
* There's a bizarre mish-mash of conflicting color codes. Maps of Germany have green page numbers, but legends written in German are orange. Blue designates both the English language and maps of the Netherlands.
* Practically none of the secondary roads are labeled. Aside from freeways, the vast majority of the roads in the book don't have any identifying name or number!
* Borders are very subtle compared to American maps. State and provincial borders are almost identical to national borders.
* Consecutive map pages do not line up. If you drive off the right side of one page, you usually appear on the left side of the next page--but often several inches up or down.
* The close-up maps of urban centers are inexplicably scattered throughout the index. There is no indication on the main map pages of which cities have close-up maps; you just have to constantly leaf through the index just to see whether they've created a more detailed map or not.
* Many of the close-up urban maps cross the coil binding at the center of the book, even when the map itself is narrower than one page
Given these shortcomings, this atlas isn't nearly as usable as the maps you get for free at American welcome centers and airports, and nowhere near as good as a typical American atlas. It takes a while to read and get used to this cumbersome presentation. You need to learn two conflicting color codes, how to find which of the legends applies to a given page, and you will be left completely uninformed about the identify of most roads. Plan ahead or get a GPS--do not get in a car with this atlas expecting to simply find your way!
Necessary backup to GPS navigators Jun 26, 2008
According to Rick Stevens, tourist atlas needs be 1/300,000 or larger scale in order to be useful as driving guide on the road. This atlas has the right scale. I am glad I brought this atlas with me as a backup to my GPS navigator during my 2-week European driving trip in June 2008. I had a GPS Navigator (Tomtom GO 720), which worked perfectly for the majority of the time --- I almost thought the traditional atlas was no longer needed. But in two incidence, this traditional atlas proved its value. For the first instance, GPS suggested me to drive from Lauterbrunnen to Lugano in Switzerland via the scenic Sustenstrasse Pass. I followed the GPS for about 2 hours, then found out the Pass was closed midway. I had to back-track and rely on the atlas to reroute. For the second instance, I was on the motorway from Salzburg to Muchen. An accident occurred (probably a mile ahead) on the motorway. After all traffic stalled on the motorway for one hour, I decided to leave the motorway. This atlas was indispensible in guiding me step-by-step through the scenic country roads to my destination. The paper and printing of the atlas are in very good quality too. It's a worthwhile investment.
Michelin Spiral Tourist Maps May 11, 2008
The maps are excellent. The only problem I have is that I was only interested in Switzerland. Therefore, I would have prefered being given the choice of only the country of my interest. I like the spiral format which allows it to lie flat and easily open 360 degrees.