You need the Michelin maps of the scale 1:200,000. These are the detailed maps. They will indicate châteaux with an icon and all the ones in the Loire will be designated. Here is a link to the Michelin map site where you can select the maps you want. For the Loire the primary map is going the be for the region "Centre" (#518) but some of the places people visit in this region cross map boundaries so you may also want to buy "Pays de la Loire" (#517) depending on where you want to go.
The maps have icons for a variety of other touristic/historic attractions besides châteaux and often these places are not mentioned in guide books and may be worth at least a drive-by. Note that they also mark designated scenic roads (although I tend to disregard the ones that go through large patches of forest).
I really like the Michelin Green Guide to Châteaux de la Loire. It offers background on what is available to see as well as suggested driving itineraries. While the Loire Valley is rural, I don´t think you will have difficulty navigating around with more than what is available in the Michelin Green.
Still, I carry (and use a great deal), the Michelin Road Atlas of France:
This is widely available in France and usually costs under 20€.
Unfortunately, I cannot find the 2011 edition of either maps here in US. I was informed that the US distributor had gone out of business. I can still get the 2008 edition but I dont know how different it is from the 2011 edition?
If I buy the maps in France, how easy is it to find the michellin maps 518 and 517 in English language? or will the French language edition be equally understandable?
Thanks for your input.
If you want to buy the maps beforehand you can buy them from their website and here is a link to the page that shows all of the maps of France:
I don't know that you'll find English language editions here but you should have no trouble figuring out things in French.
AFAIK the maps come in one version only. After all a place name is a place name. it wouldn't help you much to have a map that translated Villeneuve as Newtown when all the signposts will say Villeneuve and people wouldn't have a clue what you were talking about if you asked for directions to Newtown.
The map legends are in multiple languages so you won't have any problem figuring out what the various symbols mean.
I have the 2011 edition on order from Amazon for 2 weeks now. I dont think I would get it by end of March.
I may have to buy this when we get to Toulouse in late April. Sigh.
The 2009 edition is in stock but if a 2011 edition is available, I really dont want to get the 2009 edition.
Meanwhile I have an ancient France Atlas published by Rand McNally and I can mark it with the routes from Viamichelin site. Not as convenient but for it can be used as a make shift reference.
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