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Which map do I need for France?



IGN - the Institut Géographique National - is France's equivalent of the UK's Ordnance Survey

The stated aim of IGN is to produce, maintain and disseminate reference geographic information in France. The latest in a long line of renowned cartographers, IGN has been involved in all cartography-related operations in France and its territories since 1940. IGN have a vast selection including more than 2,000 maps of France, all available in a variety of scales, as well as some excellent maps of other parts of the world. All maps produced by IGN come with an easy-to-use key in English, French and German. More recently, the change in data acquisition techniques and a growing diversified demand has led IGN to develop a set of efficient 3D mapping technologies.

We advertise IGN products through the UK and French websites of Amazon. On this site we usually show a link to the map product on the IGN website, which shows the area covered by each sheet, and a link to the website.

There are several series of IGN maps that can be quite confusing; so which ones do you need for the outdoors?


Road atlas maps:

After some research we have a clear preference for the AA France road atlases which use IGN mapping. Our favourite is the AA Big Easy Read France atlas 2015 which has a great scale (3 miles to 1 inch) to better show those smaller lanes in rural areas, although it is nearly A3 in size (38.6 x 26.9 cm) so although it means less page turning it may be a little large for some. The other end of the scale is the 4 miles to 1 inch scale AA Road Atlas France 2015, which is A4 sized (29.6 x 20.8 cm).

We find a spiral bound atlas is easier to use in the car as it allows for easier folding and handling, although the central gap between the adjoining pages can occasionally be frustrating. Both those above are available spiral bound.

If you prefer A4 and want the larger scale, the 2.8 miles to the inch Easy Read France atlas 2015 might fit the bill; or, to complete the range, there is the Big Road Atlas France 2015, again nearly A3 in size but with a smaller scale of 4.5 miles to the inch. Both are only available in paperback format at present.


IGN TOP 25 / Serie Bleue: blue covers, 1:25,000 scale

[link to pictorial index / web index]

TOP 25 and Série Bleue maps, IGN's excellent, detailed topographic survey of France at 1:25,000, are published in two versions: the normal Serie Bleue and the sub-series TOP 25 maps which have an overprint highlighting local and GR hiking routes, campsites and other tourist information.

TOP 25 MAPS (map numbers ending in T) cover only areas of particular tourist interest: the Alps, Pyrenees, Cevennes, Vosges, Provence, Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts, etc. An overprint highlights local footpaths, long-distance GR routes and, where appropriate, ski routes. Other tourist information indicated by symbols includes campsites, huts, mountain refuges, equestrian or canoeing centres, notable sites, etc. Map legend is in French and English.

TOP 25 maps are available in waterproof and tear-resistant editions, ideal for more active use - their map numbers end in TR.

Serie Bleue maps (map numbers ending with E or O) covering the rest of France have no special overprint to show waymarked hiking routes or other tourist information but still show all public rights of way. The legend is in French only.

The map scale is 1:25,000 which means that 1cm on the map equals 250m on the ground.


IGN TOP 100: yellow covers, 1:100,000 scale

[link to pictorial index / web index]

TOP 100 road maps of France from IGN are exceptionally detailed, contoured road maps - ideal for exploring the French countryside by car, by bike, or even on foot. Used by millions of locals and tourists alike, this series provides an excellent balance between coverage of a sufficiently wide area and detailed road presentation, plus topographic information not found on other road maps.

The series includes plenty of tourist information. For walkers the maps have an overprint highlighting long-distance footpaths and the GR routes. A wide range of symbols mark various places of interest, sport and recreational facilities and gites, and the maps carry all the usual information found on topographic maps at this scale: peaks, glaciers, passes, names of mountain ranges and other geographical features, railways with stations, administrative boundaries, etc. The legend includes English.

The map scale is 1:100,000 which means that 1cm on the map equals to 1000m on the ground.


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