Exhibition: The 18th Century City / 18th Century Google Maps! | Marie Antoinette's Gossip Guide to the 18th Century: Exhibition: The 18th Century City / 18th Century Google Maps!

February 03, 2012

Exhibition: The 18th Century City / 18th Century Google Maps!

The latest exhibition at the Grand Palais is called France in Relief, Masterpieces from the collection of relief maps of Louis XIV to Napoleon III. The show features amazing scaled-down maps of some primary European cities made of wood, paper, metal and silk.  In a way, they are like the 18th century version of Google Maps.

The 3D maps were created for military purposes at the time, to aid in the preparation of war.  During the 18th century they went on display to reinforce the power France held. But today they serve to teach us about the development of borders, town planning, map-making, historical towns (that have since been destroyed and rebuilt) and even siege warfare.

The maps are so well made and realistic you can picture the 18th century cities just as they were; the detail in the architecture of buildings and layout of each city gives us a fresh perspective on historical urban life.  To create the maps, surveyors and engineers were sent out across the country to measure and record the details of assigned towns. There are 16 maps on view, all from the collection of the Grand Palais. The cities include:

Fort Barraux (Isère), 
Montmélian (Savoy), 
Exilles (Italy)
Fenestrelle (Italy)
Embrun (Hautes-Alpes)
Grenoble (Isère)
Briançon (Hautes-Alpes)
Mont-Dauphin (Hautes-Alpes) 
Besançon (Doubs)
Neuf-Brisach (Haut-Rhin)
Strasbourg (Bas-Rhin)
Bergen op Zoom (Netherlands)
Saint-Omer (Pas-de-Calais)
Cherbourg (Manche) 
Brest (Finistère)

Check out this video on the exhibition, you will be amazed at the size and detail in each map!

If you can make it to this show, it is on view until February 17, 20
 Video via Liberation Next

Would love to hear your thoughts if you see it!

Nef du Grand Palais
Entrée principale
Avenue Winston-Churchill - 75008 Paris

Hours:Monday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Wenesday, Friday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Closed Tuesday

5 €, concessions 2,50 €


  1. Thanks for sharing this! I do a lot of research on the 18th century, and this 3-d map is a great find. :-)

  2. @Gwendolyn Gage: I agree, they are definitely a great find for the historical researcher! :)

  3. Fabulous! I have Turgot's map of Paris 1734, amongst others, but this will aid my research immensely. Thanks for sharing. Off to explore!

  4. These are gorge. Any idea how I can make/buy them for today's cities?