In the past, under the domination of the French colonialist, Hanoi was separated into three regions which are French area, Vietnamese area and concession area.
Up till now, the French area has been know as the French Quarter.
Compared to the Old Quarter, French Quarter might be not as bustling as its neighbor but it would take you to another part of Hanoi soul – the charming and elegant one. Let us help you to grasp some must-know things about the area.
French Quarter in Hanoi mainly formed and developed during the French colonial period, from the early 20th century until the 1945.
These are the main areas for Vietnamese and French civil servants in Hanoi. The basic structure of a street is mainly for living with separate villas, works for the government such as the court, the office,…
Structurally, the French Quarter is based on the grid line. This structure is quite strong, therefore difficult to break.
In the French Quarter, most of the works were designed by French architects, much influenced by the style of colonial architecture. In addition, there are many villas, duplex houses, office buildings designed by Vietnamese architects or a collaboration between Vietnamese and French architects in the designing process. The details of cultural architecture, Vietnamese lifestyle has also been paid attention to these legacies.
Thus, the value of the neighborhood is the style of French architecture that has been reasonably changed for Vietnam in general and Hanoi in particular.
2. Attractions in French Quarter
Through the ups and downs of history, the French architectural works reflecting the mark of Indochinese architecture left in Hanoi still brings a unique beauty and also the romantic fragments for the city.
Many people come to Hanoi and love Hanoi also because of ancient architecture in the breath of modern life. Let’s take a look at the French-style architecture left over in the capital through these charming attractions.
2.1. Hanoi Opera House
Hanoi Opera House is one of the few French architectural works which is preserved almost perfectly. The theater was built for a long time, from 1901 to 1911. Inspired by the famous Opéra Garnier Theater in Paris, the Hanoi Opera House is actually a massive architectural work of its time, with a total area of 2,600m2.
The Opera House and the Opera House Square are home to many important historical events of the country such as rallies and demonstrations. This is where the National Assembly of Democratic Republic of Vietnam first met on March 2, 1946.
2.2. St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Hanoi
This is a well-known 19th century European style building. The Cathedral of Hanoi was built in 1884 and completed in 1886. The church’s style is a colorful Gothic architecture. The project is 64.5m long, 20.5m wide and two 31.5m high bell towers with large four-cornered stone pillars, topped with stone cross. When you come here, you will be overwhelmed by the solemnity of a religious architecture.
2.3. Hoa Lo Prison
Hoa Lo Prison was built in 1896 by the French colonialist, with the goal of detaining anti-colonialist and Vietnamese revolutionaries. This place is the most reminiscent of the heroic and painful past.
The artifacts displayed here are related to the struggle for independence of the Vietnamese nation. The prison site also features short documentaries, depicting scenes of American prisoners being detained there.
2.4. National Museum of Vietnamese History
National Museum of VietnameseLocated at No.1 Trang Tien street, National Museum of Vietnamese History was built from 1925 to 1932. It was followed the style of Indochinese architecture which means the surface structure is completely as same as French style at that time , but there was some architectural changes to adapt to climate conditions, landscape as well as traditional culture. Therefore, this Asian-European architectural combination has an elegant and unique beauty.
Today, the work is used as a museum to display and present historical materials and objects through periods and Vietnamese dynasties. On the premises of the museum, there are also cafes catering for visitors to relax after visiting and exploring history.
Each building is not only of artistic value but also of historical significance. It is in the hearts of those who have come to Hanoi that the past and the beauty of human values in the land of thousand years of civilization. If you have the opportunity to Hanoi, do not miss these interesting destinations.
3. Hotels, Cafés in the French Quarter
3.1. Hotel Sofitel Legend Metropole
This hotel could be considered an iconic of Hanoi’s colonial work with a grandeur and timeless charm unmatched in the city, or elsewhere in the region. The hotel lies in the heart of Hanoi since 1901 near the Opera House. It’s important role is hosting playwrights, ambassadors and heads of state.
Hotel Sofitel Legend Metrpole from outside
La Terrasse Du Metropole
The high-class restaurant is located in the hotel. It has a Parisian side-walk style with air-opened sitting place to enjoy the Hanoian view. The menu is also covered with French food and beverage.
Opening time: daily 11:00 – 24:00
Address: No.15 Ngo Quyen street
Au Delice & Le Restaurant d’Arthur Hanoi
The restaurant serves French cuisine as well as a wide range of drinks coming from many other countries in a homely setting.
Opening time: daily 9:00 – 22:00
Address: No.2B Ngo Thi Nham street
RICO Steak House
This is a classy South America dining restaurant which is best known for its extensive food menu comprising a mix of Australian and Argentinean beef dishes, pasta, salads and seafoods.
Opening time: 11:00 – 23:00
Address: No.56 Tran Quoc Toan street
AMATO is a Western style restaurant located behind the Hanoi Opera House. The menu offers a wide range of European delicacies.
Opening time: Mon – Sat 7:30 – 23:00
Address: No.1A Trang Tien street
Sen is a buffet restaurant which will impress everyone by its “colorful” cuisines. This restaurant is followed Asian style in the architecture as well as its foods.
Opening time: 18:00 – 22:00
Address: No.60 Ly Thai To street
Since the French quarter is home to luxury things so that shopping in this area involves high-end shopping malls and delicate boutiques as well as artistic showrooms by local artists and book stores.
Here, you can find high class brands such as: Dior, Louis Vuitton, Versace,..at Trang Tien plaza – a three-storey shopping mall located in Trang Tien – the most busy street in the neighborhood.
Also, there are other shopping choices for people who wanna look for local or chic designer art piece. Here are some galleries and boutiques highly recommended for this kind of demand:
Red Moon Gallery
Opening time: 10:00 – 18:00
Address: No.38 Trang Tien street
Thanh Bình Gallery
Opening time: 10:00 – 18:00
Address: No.25,27 Trang Tien street
Dong Phong Art Gallery
Opening time: 10:00 – 18:00
Address: No.3 Ly Dao Thanh street
Cho Hom market (This place is home to all kinds of fabric which would be the best choice for ones looking for material to make traditional customs)
Opening time: 6:00 – 17:00
Address: No.293 Tran Nhan Tong street
You’ve visited most places of French Quarter in Hanoi. If you’d love to have more information about French Quarter, please don’t hesitate to book a Free Tour with local guides.
FRENCH ARCHITECTURE IN HANOI DOES NOT EXIST ANYWHERE ELSE?
Although the French colonial period came to an end a long time ago, much of the French arts and deco style are still imprinted in the architecture of Hanoi. One hundred years under colonization of French, Vietnam did not lose its traditional color, but it also absorbs new perspectives from a modern France. Along the history of Hanoi city, it is
not overstated to claim that ancient French architecture has contributed significantly in creating a unique, magnetic and charming Hanoi with its elegance and nobility. The French architecture in Hanoi is unique. It doesn’t exist anywhere else in Southeast Asia and Asia.
THE LONG BIEN BRIDGE
The Long Bien Bridge – a typical example of the French architectural style in Hanoi The Long Bien Bridge was constructed from 1989 to 1902 during French’s occupation of the country. Though the bridge was designed by French, it was built directly by Vietnamese workers with indigenous construction materials like woods from Phu Tho, Yen Bai, Thanh Hoa province, cement from Hai Phong, Long Tho lime from Hue. The bridge was formerly named Paul Doumer by the French, but Vietnamese have called it Long Bien or Cai River Bridge for a long time, and Long Bien becomes the most popular name of the bridge. Originally, Long Bien had 19 spans and it was the first steel bridge across Red river in Hanoi, and one of four greatest bridges in the world at the time it was built. Long Bien was considered the pride, symbol of architecture in the Far East. The bridge was a connection point to transport tons of rice from Northern and Northern Central area of Vietnam to Dien Bien Phu battle, and contributed to the win of Vietnam army against French, 1954. More than 100 years with decades of war, Long Bien Bridge was bombed many times by air attacks by American army in 1967, 1972; and many spans of the bridge were destroyed. The left spans still remaining today remind us of an unforgettable past. The bridge, hence, is not only a traffic construction, a nice architecture, but also a living historical relic.
THE PALACE OF THE GOVERNOR OF TONKIN
Government Guest House Have you ever asked yourself a question why The palace of the Governor of Tonkin has yellow walls and green windows fitting perfectly with the honey-colored tropical sun? It is because the architects adopted an eclectic style, opting for buildings with railings surrounded by gardens to avoid the tropical heat.
A short walk away is the famous Metropole Hotel, a luxurious and elegant building with white walls. It is an award-winning French colonial-style hotel lying in the heart of Hanoi, near Hoan Kiem Lake and the magnificent Opera House.Boasting a classical white façade, green shutters, original wrought iron detail, wood paneling and a lush courtyard lawn, the hotel is one of the region’s few remaining hotels of its era. Built in 1901 by two private French investors, the hotel quickly became the rendez-vous point for colonial society in the first half of the century. Following Vietnamese independence in the 1950s, the new national government opted to maintain it as the official hotel for visiting VIP’s. During and after the war years, it became a base for press and diplomats.
HANOI OPERA HOUSE
Located in the heart of the city, the Hanoi Opera House is like a sumptuous palace of colonnades and arches. Strongly inspired by the Garnier Opera House in Paris, this building was built between 1901 and 1910. It was modeled on the Palais Garnier, the older of Paris's two opera houses, and is considered to be one of the architectural landmarks of Hanoi. After the departure of the French the opera house became the scene for several political events as well as the scene of street fighting during the fight for Hanoi.
THE FRENCH QUARTER
During colonialism, a Vietnamese person stepping into Ville Francaise ( The French City) which was sometimes also known as Khu pho Tay (the Westerners’s Quarter) felt like a foreigner in the capital of his own country. Today, Hanoians still refer to that sector of the city as the “French Quarter” The French Quarter’s main artery is Trang Tien Street, once called Rue Paul Bert in honour of the French resident general of Tonkin in 1886. Actually, Hanoi Old Quarter is often the first place to come and the last place to leave of all city visitors. It has affected by French Architecture. The grace of Hanoi also lies in its wide French-inspired street lined with beautiful villas and ancient trees. Each house has its own style that reflects the different regions of France. The style of the central region
can be found in Phan Dinh Phung, Hoang Dieu, Tran Phu and Le Hong Phong street while the southern style left its mark on Quang Trung and Tran Quoc Toan street. The Indochinese style dominates the houses in Ly Nam De street. There are more than 1,600 villas dating from the French colonial regime, two-thirds owned by the state… The French architectural heritage blended with historical relics like the Temple of Literature, the One Pillar Pagoda and the Old Quarter of Hanoi makes Hanoi more attractive and unique. As it grows, Hanoi remains aware that preserving its architectural heritage is a way to ensure sustainable growth.