There's a nice feature in the online version of the French telephone directory that, for some towns and cities, throws up a picture of the front of the building you're looking for: PagesJaunes : Photos de Villes Here is the first building I lived in in Bordeaux:
We lived in a one-bedroom flat on the second floor with a view of the synagogue right across the road. This was the mid-eighties and everyone was pretty jumpy around synagogues, so on a Friday evening the whole street was blocked off and policemen strutted up and down in front of the building, machine guns at the ready. The inside of the building was nicer than the outside : we even had carpeted stairs. The flat itself was entirely decorated in brown — chocolate brown carpets and chocolate brown hessian on the walls but since we didn't have any furniture colour co-ordination was no problem. The girl next door was a prostitute. P. spent the first few months believing she was some sort of community social worker.
After about five years we moved here.
This time it was little two-bedroom house with a courtyard at the front and a garden at the back. I know it doesn't look like a house — you had to go in that green door and, walk through this building and straight out the back to our tiny house. It had a lovely feel about it, lots of different levels and a very private little garden but it must have been the dampest place in the whole of France. In winter, water seeped in through the blocked up chimney breast in the bedroom leaving huge damp patches that quickly turned black. After about a week, all of our clothes smelled of mildew. Looking back, I wonder how we managed to stick it out for seven years.