That is all very good advice. I tour the Alps each year, and find that IF you are there out of peak season it is usually ok not to book ahead, but just drive then stop and ask around to get the best rate/best place. Especially if the place has a tourist information centre. If you are there in peak season, or in a national holiday period (like all of August for France....) then forget it - you need to book well in advance.
Ibis and Formula1 are horrible, but brilliant. You pay, sleep, and never really have any problem. Everything is reasonably new'ish, and clean. As Chris says: just no soul or experience. Aside from that they are great. Sleeping will not be your high point though.
Are you touring on a bike?