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Walking the neighborhood with GoogleMaps...

Paris, France
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6,833 posts
118 reviews
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Walking the neighborhood with GoogleMaps...

...and why this is an excellent idea, especially for first-time visitors.

I was walking my dog this morning, and a couple was arguing with their taxi driver (who didn't speak much English), complaining that he had taken them to the wrong address. He hadn't, though - they had just not checked out the building their rental apartment is located in, and couldn't believe their eyes (or their luck).

They assumed that they would be staying in one of the charming ancient buildings that can be seen from the nearby public garden - instead, they rented a place in an ugly modern building (that was built in the 1980's by an insurance company), that happened to be within shouting distance of the flowerbeds (many photos of which were featured in the apartment listing).

Since my dog was busy checking out the thousands of cigarette butts on the sidewalk, I had lots of time to talk with this couple. First time to Paris, first time renting an apartment, first big let-down - and I got the feeling this wouldn't be the last problem they would face during their stay, since they were asking a stranger on the sidewalk a whole bunch of questions they should have found out about before they even bought their plane tickets.

Even if you've been to Paris several times before, things do change, and it's a good idea to find out about both the building and the neighborhood you will be staying in, before you commit to a hotel or apartment. Get the exact address, if possible - or at the very least, the nearest intersection - then take the little YellowMan on a walk and Zoom In and Out to see what's what. GoogleWalk and GoogleMaps are easy-peasy to use - the Street View is a real revelation. Check the date at the bottom of the photos - it's usually a year or two old, but better than nothing.

And one more word of advice - if an apartment or hotel features lots of photos of monuments, gardens, etc, and very few of the interior and exterior of the actual place you will be sleeping in, you should either ask for better photos or look for another place to stay. Don't end up like those people I met this morning...

Arc de Triomphe
Points of Interest & Landmarks, Monuments & Statues, Architectural Buildings, Historic Sites
Army Museum
Military Museums, Monuments & Statues
59 Rue de Rivoli
Monuments & Statues, Architectural Buildings, Points of Interest & Landmarks
Les Jardins du Trocadero
Gardens, Fountains, Monuments & Statues
Seattle, Washington
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1,075 posts
42 reviews
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1. Re: Walking the neighborhood with GoogleMaps...

Good advice, Patty. However, I find the "improvements" to Google Maps very annoying. The little yellow pegman is gone, replaced by arrows that don't go where you want them to go. I used pegman to explore the neighborhood before my trip to Paris and knew exactly what my apartment looked like and where to find the supermarche, laverie, and boulangerie. I want pegman back!

Las Vegas, NV
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486 posts
52 reviews
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2. Re: Walking the neighborhood with GoogleMaps...

Easy to switch back to the old...and far better....Google Maps. I keep answering their customer service questions about the "New maps" with as much negativity as possible.

Los Angeles
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for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park
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3. Re: Walking the neighborhood with GoogleMaps...

Click on the question mark in the little box in the lower right hand corner and choose "classic view" (I'm pretty sure that's where the question mark is - anyway, it's a question mark). Then you get your pegman back. (Pegman hasn't disappeared from the new maps on my work computer - but I can't get him to zoom back to regular view; bah, humbug). DH says pegman is on his Safari browser but not Chrome (which is I believe a Google product!)

New Hampshire
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for Paris
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25 reviews
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4. Re: Walking the neighborhood with GoogleMaps...

The little man is still there...agree the functionality was better previously.

I would never rent an apartment without knowing the exact address, for all the obvious good reasons. And, anyone should know better (hopefully) than to rely on photos of the neighborhood versus photos of ALL the space and the exterior of the building. Especially suspicious are listings with "postcard" photos of places no where near the apartment. But, it's an easy mistake for the inexperienced to rely on often vastly exaggerated or embellished descriptions in apartment listings.

GoogleMaps is terrific, but, as mentioned, photos often were taken many years ago. There's often construction that's no longer there, etc.

I ran into a couple one day walking up and down the street looking for a restaurant with a red awning (now green). Note also that many times the name on the awning is not the name of the current establishment...

GoogleMaps is also very useful for locating nearby cafes, patisseries, etc., and determining nearby businesses that may be not so beneficial, such as a "lively" cafe open all hours.

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5. Re: Walking the neighborhood with GoogleMaps...

The images do have a date on the lower left corner, to help you add a grain of salt to the view.

Sydney, Australia
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for Train Travel
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6. Re: Walking the neighborhood with GoogleMaps...

Take the date with a grain of salt too. The images of Christchurch, New Zealand, are dated 2014 but show the cathedral still standing and no earthquake damage.

Takapuna, New...
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7. Re: Walking the neighborhood with GoogleMaps...

Nick, I think the 2014 is the copyright date. The image date I am looking at is December 2007.

Paris, France
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8. Re: Walking the neighborhood with GoogleMaps...

"Check the date at the bottom of the photos"

Most useful advice in an already very useful post. Some areas of Paris have photos still dating back to May 2008, which means anything and everything can have changed since then.

And as suggested by LeBiscuit, the new interface has a very different look depending on the browser used (I use Marathon which has two engines, enabling to get the best of both worlds precisely for this kind of occurences)

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9. Re: Walking the neighborhood with GoogleMaps...

Good points. Too bad it's too late for the couple you talked to today. And unfortunately, a vast majority of other like-minded tourists won't be researching on this site before their trip either!

Pegman is still there on my new Google Maps, but before I realized I could switch back to the old version I had already converted a number of maps I had created to the new format. All of those maps (in My Places) are now missing Pegman. Anyone figure out yet how to convert maps *back* to the old format??

Perugia, Italy
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10. Re: Walking the neighborhood with GoogleMaps...

I always do this so that I have a general idea of what I can expect to see. A friend of mine prefers to be surprised. It takes all kinds...

Thank you LeBiscuit D, I hate the new version and had no idea there was an option to go back to the earlier one.

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