Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for this review. I did not receive any payment and was not required to write a positive review.
If you are looking for ideas for your next motorhome holiday, this book might be just the ticket, assuming you can read a little French.
I recently received a review copy of the 2011 edition of Michelin’s Escapades En Camping-Car Europe. This guide provides suggested itineraries for 70 short motorhome tours in 24 European countries. Trip lengths range from a week to a month, covering anything from 310km to 2,040km.
The book covers all of Western Europe, plus Scandinavia, Greece and a selection of the most popular Eastern European countries – such as Croatia and the Czech Republic. The book is divided up into country sections, each of which includes:
- Route maps and reasonably detailed itineraries for each route, with a description of possible attractions and overnight spots (a mixture of aires and campsites). All of this is in French and you will need a reasonable level of schoolboy French to make sense of it.
- Background information on each country, including driving tips and rules about winter tyres and equipment that must be carried in your vehicle
- Details of emergency telephone number, currency, banking hours, etc.
- A short glossary of useful words and phrases in French and the country’s language
- 384 pages
The routes vary but tend to focus on towns and other attractions in an area and are not too demanding in terms of either driving or walking requirements. The maps include symbols showing the locations of aires and campsites, making it easy to work out where you might be able to stay each night, in conjunction with the itineraries suggested in the text.
It’s In French, Isn’t It?
This book is written in French. English and German translations of symbols and keys are provided but there is no translation of any of the text. Some of this, like addresses and campsite facility details, needs no translation. The remainder of the book does need some understanding of written French if you are to make the most of it.
I would describe my French as ‘moderate-good schoolboy’ and I could pick up the gist of most of the book without using a dictionary. With an English-French dictionary, I would be able to decipher all of it without much problem.
(As a side note, we usually buy a Collins Gem bilingual dictionary for most countries we visit. They are tiny, have splash-proof covers and are very useful for understanding written materials and signs, even when you don’t speak the language.)
If you can read a bit of French and you don’t mind deciphering/guessing at the rest, then you shouldn’t have too many problems using this book. It’s a useful guide that will give you plenty of ideas, even if you don’t choose to follow the suggested routes to the letter.
It might still be worth buying a Lonely Planet or similar guide if you are planning to spend any amount of time in a country, but there is enough in this book to enable you to enjoy a 1-2 week break abroad with virtually no planning. All you’d need in addition is road maps of the countries concerned.
Overall, Escapades En Camping-Car Europe seems a good idea, well executed. Michelin also does a France only version, which is a better choice if you are only really interested in visiting France.