The kind American man at the outdoor table next to mine at the Paris bar was helping me find my way home. I had a map: The Crumpled Map. He had a book of maps.
He could have invaded Paris with his maps. I was unable to find my way home with mine. But that was user error. Home was, as always, just around the corner. We'd only had a beer. I cannot read maps, before or after one beer, or many.
He looked at my navigational instrument and said: "That's not a map. That's a gimmick." A combination of a tourist with no sense of direction and a gimmick does not make for happy navigation.
The crumpled maps boast of being an innovation in maps. They are waterproof; they can be crumpled, hence the name, and shoved in a pocket; they can ... no I can't think of anything else they could claim to be other than a gimmick.
The first two things are good. But I like a map that has every last, tiny, winding old street shown. This would have been especially useful in the Marais district of Paris where I was staying, in part because of the charm of the tiny, winding old streets. The Crumpled Map seemed to be missing rather a few of these streets.
Also, you still need to carry another map - of the Metro - which rather lessens the advertised lightweight convenience.
But it did come in very handy a couple of times. For covering up the rude bits of French statues, which would be useful if you were travelling with a prude, say.
* Crumpled City Maps sell for $25 apiece.By Michele Hewitson Email Michele