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Review: Brittany



Comments on guide books and maps for Brittany

  • By SilverTraveller ESW

    2445 reviews

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  • Sep 2011
  • Husband

132 people found this review helpful

I spend a long time with the guide books and on the internet researching our holiday. The following are my comments on the guide books available.

If you want detailed information about Brittany (including places off the usual tourist beat) this is the book to choose.

It is an excellent reference book with plans of the major towns, with suggested walking routes and details of things to do around the area as well as suggestions for sleeping and eating. There is an estimate of the time needed to see a place as well as suggested driving tours (with distances and times) from each of the major settlements.

The book is arranged alphabetically rather than regionally so is more of a reference book rather than guide book. The index is poor and many of the smaller places are not listed. You have to know your geography to know which section of the book to find them. This is my major criticism of the book.

You do need to 'work at' this book. It is not the sort of book you can skim through area by area and pick out must sees.

The maps are poor so I bought a copy of the Michelin Map France: Brittany 512 at a scale of 1cm to 2km which I used for planning.

We kept it in the car during the holiday to read up on places before visiting – having made sure I had a note of the page. 

Anyone familiar with DK Eyewitness guides will know what to expect. For those who aren't, they are way ahead of Lonely Planet and Rough Guide when to comes to area maps, pictures and information.

The guide has a brief introductory section on history and culture. It is then divided into the 6 main regions of Brittany. At the start of each section is a reasonable map marking the main towns/attractions. The text gives details of things to do and see for each as well as other villages close too. There are plenty of excellent colour pictures as well as smaller more detailed maps and also some 3D maps of town centres. There are 2 page colour spreads of some of the major attractions eg Altarpiece of the ten thousand martyrs at Crozen, Abbaye Mont-St-Michel, Ville Close Concarneau….

Suggestions for accommodation or places to eat are found in a final section 'Traveller's Needs' which also covers shopping, general information on outdoor activities as well as general information on how to get to Brittany, and a survival guide.

The book is packed with information and lots of suggestions on places to go and things to do and see. It covers many smaller places not included by the other guide books.

Visually it is good to look at. As well as being used for pre travel planning, it is also the kind of book you will want to keep as a reminder of a holiday.

This is a typical Rough Guide production – and you know what you are getting. There is a reasonable amount of information about different places with lists of restaurants and accommodation. It is upfront in telling you that places are not worth visiting, or those which are busy with tourists.

It divides Brittany up into the different coastal areas. The centre of Brittany is lumped together under the heading ‘Nantes Brest Canal’ and coverage of this area is a bit thin.

The maps at the front of each section showing the area covered are not detailed enough for planning purposes so you will need to use a larger scale map.

This is way, way better than Lonely Planet and Footprint Brittany. However for information on those out of the way places, Eyewitness or Michelin are better.

Superficially this looks good as it is printed on good quality paper with some nice photographs. It is the kind of book you can leave lying around to impress friends.

• The Introductory section has a useful run down on history, culture, activities, shopping.
• There are some nice photographs. • Few towns are covered in detail, some have a map.
• The section on sleeping, eating and shopping at the end of each region are good with plenty of ideas and sufficient detail to help make a choice.

• There is only one small map of Brittany. Many places mentioned in the text are not marked on the map.
• There are no detailed regional maps.
• Most places are covered in a few lines. Even descriptions of important sites like Carnac are very superficial with no map or information to help find the sites mentioned. Garvenais is dismissed as "a Neolithic cairn with extraordinary carvings".
• Opening times and entrance fees are not always given.
• Information to find tourist attractions is not given or is so vague as to be useless. "…follow roads round a triangle to find them.' May be it is obvious when you are on the spot?
• The two page spread on walking was spoilt because it was printed on a sepia and brown background picture which made reading the print difficult to impossible. The double page spread on sports and activities is printed on a pale grey/green/blue picture of coastline and equally as difficult to read.

I've used Footprint books for India, Patagonia and Bolivia and although maps have been poor, I have been impressed by the amount of detail and information in them. They are solidly written fact.

I was very disappointed by this guide book.

Only buy if you want information on sleeping, eating and shopping. If you want detailed information about towns, villages and sights in Brittany, don't buy this book.

This is the guide for those who don't want to do any preliminary research or find anything out about the history and culture.

About the only good thing to be said for it is that it is logically arranged into driving itineraries. However there is little or no information for route finding. Places are mentioned which aren't shown on their maps. Area maps are not detailed enough to be used for map reading on holiday, so you need to buy maps for this. More town plans would be appreciated.

The naff sub titles also irk. "Bring out your inner twitcher"

If this is the 'new look' Lonely Planet then I won't be buying any more as it is dumming down on information. If you want a guide book with detailed information then don't buy this one. 

This is at a scale of 1:200000 (1cm to 2km) and shows all of the smaller unclassified roads between the villages. There are maps on both sides of the paper. The maps are clear and easy to use. There is a good place index although the grid squares are large so it can take a time to find the smaller settlements.

Attractions (Churches, Chateaux, ancient remains etc) are marked on the map by symbols.

There is table showing distances and driving times between major settlements.

The map is a bit big for easy use and we had to strengthened the corners with clear sticky tape before use to stop them tearing.

The folding map was a bit too big to use easily in the car, so we bought a copy of Michelin France 2011 Tourist and Motoring Atlas to use when we were in France. The maps are the same scale of 1:200,000. It also has smaller scale planning maps.

The book is 462 pages and heavy. It is also spiral bound which meant be the end of the holiday the more used pages were beginning to tear. There were some days when we were needing to use several different pages, which could make advance rout planning ‘interesting’…. I also disliked having to navigate across the spiral bound joins.

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This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.

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