A tremendously useful and informative website for European automobile trip planning is viamichelin.co.uk/. Select Driving Directions and enter your departure and destination cities and countries. As with the usual map sites, you are then presented a route with directions and mileage. But with ViaMichelin you also get a list of cities on the route that have Michelin-rated hotels and restaurants. Click on a city's bed symbol and a list of hotels comes up.

Same for restaurants, just click on the crossed knife and fork. Of course you can then click on each establishment to see all the info Michelin lists for that hotel or restaurant, plus a brief text description. It's actually more data than you get in the Michelin Red Guide.

Once you've clicked on a bed symbol or knife and fork symbol, in addition to being presented with a list of establishments, there is a menu of further information to be mined. One example: click on Tourist Attractions and you get a list of the town's major sights. Click on an individual attraction to get information about that particular sight, including address, phone, hours of operation and a description.

Throughout the process you can save the information found to a folder of your own and in this way create a mini-guide for your itinerary.

In addition, those who carry hand-held computers such as Palm Pilots or PocketPCs, can download entire Red Guides to these devices for prices starting at about $32.

This is a site with an extraordinary amount of free information.