I have a thing for maps. The obsession all started with an innocent gift subscription to National Geographic when I was eight years old. Every month, I’d eagerly await the arrival of the next issue, usually packaged with a fold-out map. Covering diverse themes and regions, these maps weren’t just eye candy for geography nerds and history buffs; they also illustrated the aesthetic beauty of map-making. I particularly love historical maps, etched with legends and mythical beasts.
In recent years, despite ever-present digital apps and mapping technology, I’ve noticed a return to paper, a hankering for the tactile. Hand-drawn maps are having a come-back—from Herb Lester’s collectable creations to the newly launched Bonjour City Map-Guides from the venerable Flammarion publishing house.
Beautifully illustrated by filmmaker Marin Montagut—a “French globetrotter” who studied art in Paris and at Saint Martin’s School in London—these hand-drawn maps also double as mini guidebooks, presenting a curated selection of offbeat insider addresses. In the “Bonjour Paris” map, there’s a boulangerie where breads are “baked to perfection” near the Canal St Martin; an atelier where you can customize your own perfume in the Marais, and a paint shop in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés district where artists have been buying their colors since 1887.
To complement this daytime adventure, the “Bon Soir Paris” map offers a bevy of exclusive addresses for night owls looking to paint the town red. The collection also includes London and New York map-guides so you can head out on a cosmopolitan transatlantic tour (or indulge in armchair travel).
Adorned with charming watercolor sketches and printed on tear-proof paper, the maps are works of art in their own right. And at $9.95 each, the maps are an affordable treasure to share generously with friends and family (stocking stuffers, anyone?) Available at Amazon and fine book stores.