Mapping my favorite places in Paris (and the world) with Mapstr!

Works in Progress - screenshots of my Mapstr maps of Paris and Boston

I knew that it was going to take something really exciting to jolt me out of my blogger doldrums. Computer mishaps, traveling and pondering the expat's eternal question of "where next?" have kept me from blogging for the past month. It was getting to the point where I was tempted to hang an "out of business" sign on my blog.

Everything changed when I picked up a copy of 20 Minutes as I was running to catch the RER train bound for Orly airport last Friday. Buried at the back of the newspaper was an article about an app that's proving to be the answer to one of my biggest challenges.

Like most people who live in a large city, I have a really hard time keeping track of all the new restaurants I want to try and boutiques I would like to visit, not to mention all of my tried-and-true favorite places. Torn out pages from travel magazines and cocktail napkins covered with restaurant recommendations clutter my desk. When someone asks me to suggest a place for lunch, it usually takes me about 40 minutes to come up with a solid proposal because I don't want to go to just any old place. I want to go to the restaurant I read about in the Air France magazine a couple of months ago. But since I was jet-lagged when I unpacked my suitcase, I can't remember exactly where I put that stupid article. Grrrrrr.....

Now, thanks to Frenchman Sébastien Caron, I can store all of that information in one easily accessible place -- in an app on my iPhone. Mapstr enables users to create their own maps with color coded icons and to further classify them with tabs. My favorite restaurants have a heart icon while eateries that I've read about are marked with green "to try" tags. There are also a variety of icons to visually represent different services, such as a fork and knife for restaurants, a painting for museums and a shoe for favorite footwear boutiques.

The free mobile application, with its clean design and easy functionality, already has more than 60,000 users worldwide (only 40% are in France) and recently raised $800,000. Hailed by Grazia as "the smartest app of 2015" and GQ as "the app Google should have developed with Maps, to let users save all their favorites places", I predict that Mapstr will soon become a favorite of travelers.

In the meantime, I've got a couple of proposals for dinner ...

Wine, cheese and saucisson at Les Climats, one of my new favorite restaurants in Paris, or ...
Steak-frites at the tried-and-true Relais de l'Entrecote


  1. I really like this idea. I'm operating off of spreadsheets, which are great, but not mobile-friendly!

    1. Bridget, You'll have to try Mapstr! I've talked with lots of people who use a variety of systems, including spreadsheets, to keep track of restaurants, etc., and this app is super easy by comparison. The only thing that I couldn't figure out on my own was how to create maps for multiple cities so I tweeted at Mapstr. They explained that the app covers the entire world so it's easy to navigate. Just reduce the size of the map and move it to the location you want and zoom in. That works fine if you use the map function. I just wish that it would be possible to separate the list function by cities. Perhaps that will happen in a future version of the app. It's still rather new.

    2. It sounds great! And I may be a dinosaur, but since I prefer browsing and planning on an actual computer rather than my phone, having a web-based presence would be great. I know it adds a ton of trouble to the programming side of things, but that would be lovely.

    3. Good point! They seem open to suggestions so you may want to mention it directly to them. From their website:

      Want to get in touch?

      Don’t hesitate to ask us something, or to tell us your ideas, issues, or anything you want! We'll get back to you as soon as we can.

      You can email us directly at hello @ . You can checkout our FAQ page to get more information about mapstr.


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