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A map of France drawn with a GPS in the streets of Paris

7 hours and 33 minutes. That’s how long it took Nicolas VERGES and his friend Chloe to draw the map of France in the streets of Paris with the STRAVA app.

It’s called “GPS drawing”. The idea of this challenge is to follow roads, streets and even dead-ends in order to trace a recognizable shape on a map or on a GPS. You probably heard about the shark drawn by blogger Marine LELEU at the end of 2018. This time, it’s not about a shark but about the map of France, perfectly drawn in the streets of the French capital. The man behind the feat is Nicolas VERDES, who will be running the EcoTrail Paris 80km trail on March 17th.  


We met with Nicolas to ask him 3 questions about this quite unusual achievement :


How did you come up with such a crazy idea?

I run quite a lot and I also swim and bike. When I saw the shark drawn by Marine LELEU, I found it really creative.

I often visit my friend in Paris and since I’m training for the 2019 EcoTrail Paris (it will be my fourth participation to the 80km trail), some of my sessions happen when I’m in Paris. So I thought it would be fun to replace my 3 hours session of February 2nd by a longer active walking session in the streets of Paris. And why not combine the creative with the useful?


How did you plan this project? We guess it took some location spotting and hours upon hours on Google Maps?

I took a screenshot of the map of Paris on Google Maps and I found the outline of France on some website. I superimposed both images to center the map of France within the heart of Paris and size it perfectly – not too big, not too small. Then, still on Google Maps – using the “walking” mode – I worked on the route portion by portion while drawing it on the Openrunner platform at the same time. After about 5 hours, I had the route I needed. I only had to change it slightly to adapt it to the streets of Paris and all the “bugs” it had: train stations, bridges, buildings etc. Once I was done, I printed screenshots of each portion of the route (about 30 A4 pages) to have an easy to use road-book during the challenge.


Are you done with GPS drawing, or do you have another challenge you want to take on?

No, I’m far from done. I’m only starting. There is some kind of excitement to it every time. First, you need to find what you want to draw. Then, you need to find a city that allows you to do the drawing and it’s not always easy. In this case, I tried a dozen ideas on my computer, but since I want the result to be as realistic and clean as possible, I had to give most of them up.  You also need time to work on the project and to realize it. In fine, you have to hope that the app doesn’t let you down in the middle of the GPS drawing, because if it does, you have to start it all over. I will take on my next challenge on February 25th 2019, in the morning and in Paris again. It will be on 32 kilometers, maybe more if, as it happened for the map of France, the route needs to be changed because of works or traffic.