Telescope Cards: Paris


Nothing beats personal recommendations from friends when you’re traveling. Blogs are awesome, but sometimes can get a little overwhelming with so many ideas, and all the information is scattered in too many places. I don’t know about you, but I rarely have much time to plan. Besides, it’s refreshing to disconnect when you’re traveling (if you haven’t already gone through your phone battery taking pictures putting you on mandatory disconnect). What’s even better is when those recommendations can become a souvenir from your travels as well.


About a year ago, when I was in London, I first met up with Basil Safwat, who is one of the founders of Telescope Cards. We instantly connected on the ways we travel, and what’s missing in travel guides, lamenting the fact that there are too many minimalist layouts with pretty pictures, which don’t feel particularly personal, or practical. Then he told me about his latest project. Like most things in print, it wasn’t until I held a deck in my hand did I realize the awesomeness of Telescope Cards. Telescope Cards were born out of an exchange between Basil and James Croft where “consulting the [custom] map [with personal tips] was like asking a friend where to go next.” The bite sized deck that fits in the palm of your hand (or in your pocket) holds 25 place cards, and two extra information cards. The design is smart, with small notches cut out of each card, which are held together by a small rubber band. The best part: anyone can create their own deck!


These awesome handheld souvenirs can be shipped anywhere in the world, and shipping is integrated into the price so no surprises at the last step.  The decks are printed on demand by a family-run printer in the UK. I loved the sample decks I got to see [below]. Decks are perfect for a wedding favor (where all the cards were recommendations from the couple, with a story how it’s meaningful to them, with the bonus of helping people find great places in the new destination), great to promote other projects/locations/companies (a special gift from a business for their employees or clients), and how awesome would this be for a conference gift, or student orientation. FYI, the business option lets you go more custom than a standard deck, and is for larger orders (and better deal).


The fun thing when you meet the founder of a company, you get to do cool projects yourself and become part of the feedback process of refining how some cards may work better (ie. adding metro stops!). I was able to create two super custom decks. Paris Top 25 includes maps for my favorite places in Paris, with a mini description for each. Paris Piscine celebrates my 25 favorite swimming pools in Paris (I’ve visited them all!), but instead of having maps, there’s a photo of each pool. And yes, you can buy my decks too if you so desire.


For anyone making their own deck, there are even starter decks if you don’t feel like starting from scratch. Of course you could take all your favorite blog travel research and create your own. The possibilities are really endless!


The way it works is you type in the name of the place for each card on their website, where there’s room for a few lines of text to personalize your card. The platform auto-generates the address, and accompanying map, as well as finding the closest metro stop, as well as noting the distance to other nearby locations featured in your deck. Long story short: it’s super simple and user friendly! The main thing to be aware of is that decks cannot be created using places from different cities (unless they’re surrounding cities of course), and expect maps on your cards for now. Once you place your order, you’ll receive a PDF version of your deck to proof before it goes to the printer. Once it’s OKed, they’ll dispatch your order within 3 days. It’s hard to know which is more exciting—touching your deck for the first time, or giving one to a friend!


Pick up Paris Top 25 and Paris Piscine on the Telescope Card site! (For now you can’t find them on the site, so you need to go through these links).


  • OMG this is amazing!! My mind just went racing with the ideas! I~m imagining it would also be nice as a post-travel souvenir collecting favourite places visited (you know when years later you never remember where that restaurant was?) Love it love it! Thanks for sharing!

  • These are so cool! Yours look great. Is there a place on the telescope site to browse decks made by locals, like yours but for other cities?

    • Thanks, Staci! Anyone can make a deck (but they come with a basic cover). Right now I’m the only independent person with a deck you can purchase on the website. You can look at the ‘Business’ page to see the super custom versions. Also when you go to make a deck there are starter cards to get an idea. But I love the idea that people get creative with the limitations of the format.

  • I am also a designer and SWIMMER. i would love to get a copy of the Paris Piscine collection you created-it looks amazing! the link doesn’t work. are they still available? if so, please let me know how I can purchase. thanks!

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