February 27, 2015

Visiting Paris? This Is The Best €10 You'll Ever Spend

Paris Maps

"L'indispensable"*
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?

Paris Maps

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?

Map of Paris

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.

Map of Paris

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!

Paris map books

*Essential

**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.


Pin It

17 comments:

Mardi Michels said...

Jennifer I couldn't agree more. Though I am all digitized for many things, I have one of those that lives permanently in my purse when I am in Paris. Best euros I ever spent (and you've reminded me I need to get an updated version - eeek - next week!!)

Ann Mah said...

I agree! And the second best book is the one of bus maps.

materfamilias said...

Another reader (and very infrequent commenter) who couldn't agree more. We've picked up a few on annual visits to Paris (have a couple for London as well). They're an easy size for carrying around and can be much more discreet than unfolding one of those free maps. Now, when we get home from a trip, they go into the "travel box" along with the adaptors, etc., and are the first thing I grab when packing. . . Can't wait 'til May when I'll be using mine on a Paris street again!

Lynn said...

I love the Paris Map Guide, only downside is it hasn't been updated since 2002 (but then neither has Paris!). Now I just rely on my phone (Google, never Apple's app) http://www.amazon.com/Paris-Mapguide-Michael-Middleditch/dp/B000K2SKWS/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=8-3&qid=1425052620

Anonymous said...

I have been using Michelin's Paris par Arrondisements since 1990s and love the book and refer to it as I compile lists of where I want to go. There are a couple of drawbacks that have surfaced on the 2010s. The print is now too small for my eyes to find those tiny streets I am looking for. I have had to carry a small magnifying glass.
Also on my iPhone in my apartment I Google the area I want to visit and then copy that map to my phone and I can refer to it when I het out tof the Metro and get my bearings without the need for internet service.

WhatLilly Found said...

OMG, that is so true. Especially the part about standing on the corner, using precious data, your battery dying a slow, predictable death. Must have a paper map.

Sage said...

I'll have to pick one of these up! They remind me of The Paris Map Guide (previously mentioned) which I loved. The Paris Map Guide is so much more compact and easy to use when compared to the typical tourist maps. And, it feels much more discrete. I have never felt more like a tourist than when I was trying to wrangle one of those humongous, fold-out maps on a rainy, gusty, busy Parisian sidewalk. Are the Paris Map Books available on-line before I wander around trying to find one in my jet-lagged stupor? LOL!

Jennifer Greco said...

Mardi
These little books have saved me many, many times. See you soon! :)

Ann
Thanks for the tip!
I have the one that has 3 maps per arrondissement, with maps of the bus routes, the Métro stops and the streets. Sadly they haven't updated it in a few years so some things are out of date.
I think that knowing the bus system is Paris is a huge plus!

Jennifer Greco said...

materfamilias
They are discreet, and that is another reason I love them!
Thanks for stopping by to comment from time to time. :)

Lynn
Sadly, the only Paris Map Guide that Amazon currently offers is ridiculously out of date, that's why I linked to the more updated Michelin book at the end of the post.
I would recommend either getting that one before your travels, or waiting until you arrive in Paris and picking one up at a news kiosk as soon as you can.

Jennifer Greco said...

Anon
I have seen some large print books for sale at bookstores in Paris. You could look for one of those next time!

What Lilly Found
That is really the worst feeling. Having at least a paper map back up is a great safety net.


Jennifer Greco said...

Sage
They are a life saver! And much less embarrassing to use. :)

Betty Carlson said...

I used the little red "Paris par Arrondissement" for decades. I now find myself either knowing where I'm going, or researching it online and then memorizing it all in my head. If worse comes to worse I ask for directions -- but I never use my phone GPS.

Jennifer Greco said...

Betty
That is a great little book! I only rely on my phone's GPS when I'm really, really lost.

Working Girl said...

Wise advice. I love my L'Indispensable. Even here in the States I keep it near my desk….

Jennifer Greco said...

Thanks for stopping by to comment, Working Girl!

MartinH said...

hey, we've lobbied hard to keep rue Charlot off of those tourist maps...it's only for those in the know, you know? :)

Nice to meet you on rue Charlot tonight by the way....

(by the way..that book has saved me many-a-time!)

Jennifer Greco said...

Sorry, Martin! :)
Nice to meet you too and looking forward to running into you again. Take care!