What is the best (preferably free) software for making curved text for map labels? I am using GIMP and I am fully aware of the technique for that software, and have mastered it to do it routinely, but I find it very inconvenient, time-consuming and tiring.

Do you know of any add-ons, plug-ins, or just normal features of GIMP and/or other programs which make this an easy simple task?