See and Hear France Through a Google Maps Walking Tour

By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2014-05-02 Email Print this article Print

Google Maps has partnered with the French Radio Grenouille radio network to create special "soundwalks"—a series of voice-guided walking tours that visitors can explore using Google Maps and a set of headphones—highlighting several cities in France. The guided tours, which were begun as an online experiment, are led by enthusiastic local residents who show and describe the histories, sights and sounds of the communities, according to a recent post on the Google Policy Europe Blog. Visitors to France—or armchair tourists far from French soil—can download a tour from the Soundwalks Website and then can follow along in the footsteps of the guides. So far, more than 40 soundwalks have been created and made available in the southern French cities of Marseille, Aix-en-Provence and Aubagne. In this slide show, visitors can see a sampling of the sights and sounds pointed out by local musician Christophe Perruchi, who takes you on a colorful and surprise-filled guided nighttime tour of Marseille's Cours Julien neighborhood. Click on the colored tabs to discover many surprises.

  • See and Hear France Through a Google Maps Walking Tour

    by Todd R. Weiss
    1 - See and Hear France Through a Google Maps Walking Tour
  • Meet Christophe

    First, we are introduced to our guide, Christophe, by clicking the blue "Start your walk" button and walking with him over the bridge to start our night tour. Follow the green line to start seeing the sights.
    2 - Meet Christophe
  • Mister P's Art

    Along the tour, the blue, red and yellow icons highlight a myriad of intriguing sights. In this slide, by clicking the yellow icon, you hear more about street artist Mr. P's spray-painted portrait of former French general and President Charles De Gaulle.
    3 - Mister P's Art
  • Mural Masterpiece

    In this image, a local artist spray-paints a colorful portrait on the security door of a local storefront through the magic of time-lapse video. By clicking the arrow, you see a video of the painting as it comes to life.
    4 - Mural Masterpiece
  • Live Jazz

    As we continue the tour, in this slide viewers can take in a performance by a local jazz band inside a club along one of Marseille's streets. You can hear and watch the stirring performance by clicking the arrow on the video.
    5 - Live Jazz
  • Street Art

    In this slide, we walk through the night streets along the cobblestones, taking in the architecture and murals. Clicking the yellow camera icon will provide details of the beautiful and intricate Zadim street art.
    6 - Street Art
  • Street Musicians

    A group of street musicians entertains by playing makeshift instruments. You can watch and hear the video of the sounds of the streets by clicking the arrow.
    7 - Street Musicians
  • Film Noir

    The hazy mystery of the stylized old black and white films, the so-called film noir period, comes to life in this slide along the tour, as scenes from classic old French movies are interspersed with a modern view of Marseille's streets at night.
    8 - Film Noir
  • Cats and Cooks

    Here we follow our guide as he spots a stray cat walking the dark streets. By clicking the red arrow, you can follow the cat into a local restaurant from the cat's unique point of view; clicking another arrow shows Xavier the chef cooking his specialty.
    9 - Cats and Cooks
  • Jef Aerosol

    Some of the works of the famous French stencil artist Jean-François Perroy, who works under the pseudonym of Jef Aérosol, are featured on the walls of this street.
    10 - Jef Aerosol
  • Flaubert Lives

    Gustave Flaubert, a famous French novelist, walked these streets during the mid-1800s, and his presence is noted in this slide featuring a brief biography of his life. Also featured is a quote: "Here we feel a certain something of the Orient, we walk the city with great ease, we breath happy, the skin expands and inhales the sun as if it's a great bath of light."
    11 - Flaubert Lives
  • Famous Bookshop

    A bookshop featured in "Total Chaos," the first novel of French author Jean-Claude Izzo, sits here on this street in Marseille. This slide celebrates its presence and a passage from the book about the shop: "Our taste for books came from Antonin, an old second-hand bookseller, whose shop was on Cours Julien. We'd cut classes to go see him. He'd tell us stories of adventures and pirates."
    12 - Famous Bookshop
  • City Panorama

    From the spectacular viewpoint of the Notre-Dame de la Garde Catholic basilica, we can see an amazing nighttime panorama of the city of Marseille, pictured in the distance. By clicking the yellow icon, one can see the panoramic view and, by clicking the blue icon, get more information about the history of the basilica, which opened in 1864.
    13 - City Panorama

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