MapCarte 44/365: Plan de Paris by Louis Bretez, 1739

MapCarte44_turgotA classic example of the principle of adding detail to communicate complexity. Commissioned by the the chief of the municipality of Paris, Michel-Étienne Turgot, the Turgot map of Paris was prepared by Louis Bretez and originally published in atlas form across 20 pages, each 50 cm by 80 cm giving an accurate birds-eye view of a part of the city. In its entirety the map would measure 250 cm high by 322 cm wide, corresponding to a scale of approximately 1:400.


Bretez took over two years to survey the city in detail and was granted permission to enter mansions and gardens to take measurements and draw sketches. The map uses an isometric projection and for the time, went against the trend of more geometric, planimetric depictions of cities in favour of a return to a pseudo-panoramic style. The benefit of an isometric projection allows scale to remain constant across the map so buildings in the foreground are to the same scale as those in the background.

This is large-scale mapping in the extreme and the result of a huge effort. It paid off with a beautiful map!