In 1908, André Michelin create the « Itineraries Office » in the intend to provide, by simple request, the lay out of a road journey for all those who travel by cars, for their leisure or business. After unpretending beginnings, the “Itineraries Office” find its total spread out in the early twenties. So in 1925 more than 1500000 itineraries were forwarded . Therefore in 1926 André Michelin has the idea to gather the totality of the itineraries concerning the same region in a booklet : thus the first tourist Michelin regional guide was born. At the beginning the tourist part is only a foreword, and the description and the most important curiosities. By 1935 the size of the booklet change, and its price is largely lowered ; And by the same time the precisely tourist part increase noticeably. At last , in 1937 the issue of the “Châteaux of the Loire” guide open a new form, which will be the one of the green guides till about 2000.
Arrival on the market at a period when tourist guides were numerous; when the publisher Hachette, multiply the manners to attract the widest customers with : blue guide, diamond guide and so on ; the tourist Michelin guide had have give a proof of a great originality, facing in front of such a concurrence. First of all, the guide is really a guide written for drivers . The foreword of the 1926 Brittany guide, specify it has been fully written by a team of four watchers ,driving on board a specially fitted out car.
But that what do the main particular of the Michelin green guide, and what is at the origin of its success , is the particular form of suggested tourism ; a cultural and popular one.
A genuine cultural tourism, where the most curiosities are described with care . But also a popular tourism far from the one proposed by the “Blue guide” who appeals to the” Medium class French tourists “ as it was said in the sixties .
The curiosities are often shown by explanatory diagrams. The antique ruins, the partly destroyed medieval buildings are resituated owing to reconstitutions. The geological phenomenal caves, and reappearances are carefully explained. The religious buildings have often their capitols and tympanums , enhance by schemes . Briefly all is done to help the tourist missing the indispensable knowledge to approach directly the “work of art”, and with the help of the guide make a profit of his or her visit. Moreover the numerous paragraphs called “ A little of History” enliven the monuments by relating an anecdote or an historical feat who happened there. So everybody can visit a curiosity, imagine events who happened, and complete his or her visit with a real cultural profit .
This form which has hardly evolve for more sixty years, put million of tourists, French or foreigners on the same way of behave, and create a particularly way of tourism. We can regret than the “Green Guide”, since 2000become a guide like the others, nevertheless
With more colour pictures and descriptions, but without the famous paragraph “A little of History” which gave the touch of the charm of its previous publishing.