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I googled around and several sources said this would be a good place to ask about mapping so here goes. Thanks in advance for reading!

I want to make my own city map (specifically Paris) as a gift to the girlfriend before she visits later this year. I would like for it to be aesthetically pleasing and as professional as possible since I'm planning to make a foldout map-sized professional print of the final product and perhaps place it inside a notebook containing other useful travel things.

At first, I thought of hand-drawing the map, but figured it would be much too time-consuming to draw every street in Paris by hand. Then I considered using Illustrator or a similar image creation/editing program to fill in the details of an available map. But, I think using some sort of more professional mapmaking software with GIS capabilities would actually be best, since I'd like to accurately place landmarks, sights, museums, and other destinations of interest, as well as metro stations, street names, and the other bread and butter features of a good city map.

I know I could easily find a good city map of Paris, but I'd like to make it a more personal gift, as well as do my own customizations, like specifying the color scheme and selecting which features to include and label. Also, I really enjoy geography and love to learn new things, so why not get my hands dirty with GIS and mapping while making this gift?

So, what are your suggestions for a good program to use? One which allows accurate placement of features and landmarks, has color and style palettes and tools to customize the appearance, and exports to high quality image files for large-format printing.

Thanks for your input!

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I started to write a answer, but then again, can you state how much time do you have for this and how much expertise with GIS do you have? I think these are main factors in "tailoring a solution" for you (your budget is another factor, but a less important one). – jonatr Mar 25 '12 at 7:45

You need to break your project up into a couple of components, which is typically the case for most map making.

  1. source of data - I'd suggest you will be looking at OpenStreetMap

  2. static or dynamic data - in your case static, a one time snapshot.

  3. Data editor/display tool. Many. Intersects with the next question.

  4. Cartographic tool - trade off between simplicity and range of features.

Note that many software/sites/systems spread across all this territory.

But the short answer, get going with the QGIS nightly builds and use the latest styles.

with a bit of your own exploring, I am confident QGIS will meet your needs.


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One relatively easy way to do this:

  1. Download OpenStreetMap data for Paris from Metro Extracts
  2. Follow the Maperitive Tutorial: Generating OSM Map For Adobe Illustrator In Seven Easy Steps

You can change the map styling either by modifying Maperitive rules or by applying the styles later in Illustrator.

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