Visualizing Paris, Barcelona and other Cities

While local search in the U.S. has focused on providing basic business information, Wanadoo Maps has added a new twist to online yellow pages in Europe: photos of thousands of buildings in France and Spain.

In France, the photos are available via France Telecom’s Yellow Pages site, Pages Jaunes. The directory features pictures of building facades for all listed street addresses in France’s nine largest cities, including Paris, Lille, Marseille, Bordeaux and Nice.

If you want to see a picture of a building at a specific address, just enter the address into the search box. It’s far more fun, however, to simply click on a city on the map, then zoom in to the street level and take a “virtual stroll” down avenues and boulevards simply by clicking on the map.

Although the site is in French, it’s fairly easy to navigate. The trick is to move the open hand icon across the map until the icon turns into an index finger pointing straight ahead. This means that there’s a photo associated with that specific location. Click, and the picture of the building at that location opens up in a window to the left of the map.

You can move the map around by holding down the mouse when the hand is open, dragging the map into a new location. Icons to zoom in and out change the scale of the map.

Try clicking in the middle of a major intersection of streets. This brings up an icon beneath the picture that lets you click to “turn” and get a 360 degree view of the entire intersection, looking right, left, forward, back, and so on.

Photos of Spain are available at the QDQ Media Callejero Fotografico web site. This isn’t as ambitious as the Pages Jaunes site, having pictures of only four cities: Madrid, Barcelona, Seville and Valencia. Nonetheless, it’s just as well designed, and offers a fascinating way to visit these cities from the comfort of your own computer.

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