February 27, 2015
I couldn't agree more.
I'm a huge fan of the Paris map books.
Despite the fact that I have both the Google and Apple map apps loaded onto my phone, I always keep one of these little books in my bag. If you ask me, a paper map is always easier and often faster to use. No internet connection is necessary and if you're really, really lost, you can always show the book to a helpful local (yes, they do exist), who should be able to point you in the right direction.
And really, is there anything more frustrating than being lost in a foreign city and standing on a street corner, waiting for data to load on your phone while you watch helplessly as its precious battery life slowly ebbs away?
Don't get me wrong, I think it's great that there are free maps of Paris available for visitors, like the ones pictured above, and if you're only in town for a night or two with plans to primarily hit the big sites like the Eiffel Tower and Notre-Dame, then you'll be just fine.
However, if you're staying for several days and want to explore Paris a bit more in depth, then you will hugely benefit from getting one of these books. Yes, you'll have to shell out a few Euros, but the time and stress you'll save yourself from wandering around lost is well worth the price.**
Think of it this way: €10 on a map book? Or €10 at the pharmacy on medication for that pounding headache?
Here's a prime example: the yellow section pictured above is a page detail from a map book. It shows the 4ème arrondissement, often referred to as le Marais, which is a very popular neighborhood with tourists. Le Marais is home to the Picasso Museum, la Place des Vosges, the Centre Pompidou and even Notre-Dame. Clearly marked on the page are all the little streets, the Vélib and Métro stations and any historical sites of interest. There are arrows showing the direction of the one way streets and even little basket icons noting the location of the weekly markets.
The photo below is also a detail of le Marais, taken from one of the free maps.
Notice a few things missing? Like dozens of streets?
Sure the major sites are there, but what if you're having trouble accessing the internet on your phone and want to go to the rue des Rosiers, the heart of the Jewish quarter, famous for its falafel joints, kosher bakeries and boutiques?
Omitted. Not important enough, I guess.
Maybe you're searching for a restaurant on the rue Charlot, a bustling little street in the 3ème arrondissement?
Check out the map...it's simply not there.
This is exactly why I think these books are essential.
They come in several languages and they're easy to find. I've seen them for sale at Monoprix, many bookstores and almost every news kiosk scattered around the city.
Prices range between €6-10 and trust me, they are worth every centime!
**Not to say that simply wandering around Paris while completely lost is always a bad thing. But sometimes you need to be places!
I've also seen a map book published by Michelin for sale on Amazon.com, but have never actually looked at this one in person.