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.
Saint Joseph Cathedral Hanoi | Historical Information | Tourist Information
An Neo-Gothic Cathedral located in the heart of Hanoi Capital, Saint Joseph Cathedral is the representative evidence of the French colonial architecture.
Familiarly called by the local as “The Big Church”, Saint Joseph Cathedral is the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hanoi for more than 4 million Catholics in the country.
Another place that also represents the evidence of French colonies is Hỏa Lò Prison (also known as Maison Centrale). Click here to read more about Hỏa Lò Prison.
A. History of St. Joseph Cathedral Hanoi
A.1. The Construction:
The construction of Hanoi began in 1886, with the architectural style described as resembling the famous cathedral Notre Dame de Paris.
As an oldest church in Hanoi, St. Joseph was one of the first structure built by the French colonist during the expansion in its colonial empire Indochina.
St. Joseph was built on the site of Bao Thien Pagoda – a well-respected temple as the center of Buddhist practice in Lý-Trần dynasty demolished for the construction of the Church.
A.2. After the French colonial era:
After the retreat of French from North Vietnam in 1954, St. Joseph Cathedral is under the control the Vietnamese Nationalists and suffered decade of persecution, when priests were arrested, church property were seized and expropriated.
It was not until the Christmas Eve of 1990 that the mass was allowed to be celebrated there.
B. The Architecture of St. Jospeh Cathedral
64,5 meters in length, 20,5 meters in width, 31,5 meters in height.
The façade consists of two towers, square in shape with five bells.
The twin bell towers with the resemblance to Notre Dame de Paris.
The exterior walls made of granite stone slabs, yet is stained with pollution with the pass of time.
Gothic style, tall windows with pointed arches.
Stained glass windows were produced in France then imported to Vietnam.
Rib vaulted ceiling.
Weathered nave with shiny sanctuary made of trimmed wood
The statue of Virgin Mary kept in palanquin, to the left of the nave.
C. Tourist Information
C.1. Opening hour
For Outside visit: all time
For Inside visit: visitors can only enter the Cathedral in Hanoi in the opening time of ceremonial practice as the following schedule:
Visitors can easily find St. Joseph Cathedral Hanoi, located at 40 Nhà Chung street, as it lies in the connecting corner of Nhà Chung and Nhà Thờ street.
C.3. Entrance Fee/ Ticket Price
Public space and free
take 01 to Trieu Quoc Dat street stop
02 to Hai Ba Trung Street stop;
09, 14, 36 to Hoan Kiem Lake stop and
Then walk to the Cathedral
Motorcycle/ Bicycle: park vehicles near Hoan Kiem lake (the parking line is parallel to Cau Go Street) and walk to the Cathedral
Parking fee: 10.000 VND (0.4 USD)
D. What’s next after visiting St. Joseph Cathedral?
D.1. Where to go next?
As a benefit of location in the center of Hanoi, visitors are provided of a variety of choice for the next destinations. Visitors can consider these following:
Hoan Kiem Lake and Ngoc Son Temple:
Hoan Kiem Lake, the lake of Returned Swords, as the most representative site pertaining the value of Hanoi with famous historical legend.
Ngoc Son Temple as the symbol of educational tradition of the Vietnamese
Hoa Lo Prison: also known as Maison Centrale, a representative testimony of the period of Vietnamese revolutionary struggle against the French colonists
Address: 1 Hoa Lo Street
Vietnam Museum of Woman: preserve and display various tangible and intangible historical and cultural heritage of Vietnamese women through the long-standing pathway of the history
Address: 36 Ly Thuong Kiet Street
D.2. Where to eat next?
Bánh gối and deep-fried cuisine: 52 Ly Quoc Su Street
Pork Porridge: Ngõ Huyện Street
E. Free Tour with Hanoi Free Local Tour
Visitors are highly recommended to book a free tour with Vietnamese locals when visiting St. Joseph Cathedral to understand more about its presence in the local’s social life and further fully explore Hanoi with other nearby attractions.
Free tour is organized by Hanoi Free Local Tour with tour guides are groups of young passionate and energetic students who seek to guide the foreigners as a way to practice and improve their English skills but are trained to have full knowledge about attractions in Hanoi and tour guide skill.
Booking a tour is easy as visitors only have to go to websites and place a tour’s order. Visitors will receive a confirmation from tour director and they will be picked at their hotel or arranged meeting place at time as appointed.
Water puppetry is remarkable creation from rice culture by the Vietnamese. Although puppetry is formed in many countries around the world, Vietnam is the only country with water puppet. Experiencing the ups and downs of history, Vietnamese people still preserve and develop water puppetry, which becomes an innovative and special art.
Vietnamese water puppet art has exxisted more than 1000 years. Water puppetry was first performed in 1121 to celebrate the King’s birth under the reign of Ly dynasty., Iit has quickly developed into a form of indispensable art in the daily life of Vietnamese people. Water puppet performances daily lives of Vietnamese farmers such as harvesting, planting, fishing, tending buffalo,…Moreover, the audience have chances to review not only the historical legends ( Le Loi, one of the most famous kings in Vietnam, returned the sword in Hoan Kiem Lake ), Vietnam fairytales but also the competitions in our life, such as sailing, racing dragon, swimming contest,… Today, the artists can combine the light and sound effects to attract more spectators and renew their stories.
Water puppet art has different characteristics with conventional puppetry: the water is used as the stage, the background is decorated with flags, paper fans, and votive objects. Through the system of font, tangled wires, which connect between puppets (made of wood) and artists, the artisans can control the puppets on the water to perform various repertoires. Normally, in water puppet performances, the sounds of musical instruments such as drums, flutes are extremely important.
In Hanoi, travelers have the opportunity to see water puppet show at Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre. The theater is a familiar address for both domestic tourists and foreign ones, who want to enjoy water puppet shows and discovery the beauty of this unique Vietnam traditional art.Definitely, enjoying a cup of tea or coffee in lounge in front of the Thang Long Theatre, having a nice view to see the beauty of Hoan Kiem Lake and watching a water puppet show is are the most wonderful moments that you have ever experienced in your life.