Walking the colonial era gems of Hanoi's French Quarter

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20 Oct 2016

Hanoi's French Quarter is a great place for exploring the city's French colonial architectural heritage. The walking is easy and there's a great taste of local life to be had too.

Recently I posted a blog about architect and city planner, Ernest Hebrard, and his impact on the architectural landscape of Hanoi, during his 1920s posting in the city.

In this video, I take a walk around an area of Hanoi that’s become known as the French Quarter. That’s not an official designation, more an invention of the travel industry I suspect. 



The area is home to many of Hanoi’s most iconic examples of colonial architecture, including the Opera House, the National History Museum, The Metropole Hotel, and lesser known buildings like the State Bank, the Science University and the former Pasteur Institute.

In the Hebrard blog, I mentioned that the National History Museum, the University of Science and the former Pasteur Institute were all designed by him. And that these buildings are excellent representations of the Indochine architectural style that fused French and Asiatic styles.

 

Sofitel Legend Metropole Hotel, Hanoi
Photo: Mark Bowyer Sofitel Legend Metropole Hotel, Hanoi
 
Hebrard's Museum of Vietnamese History, Hanoi
Photo: Mark Bowyer Hebrard's Museum of Vietnamese History, Hanoi
 
Ernest Hebrard's Pasteur Institute in Hanoi
Photo: Mark Bowyer Ernest Hebrard's Pasteur Institute in Hanoi
 
Once the residence of the Governor of Tonkin, Hanoi
Photo: Mark Bowyer Once the residence of the Governor of Tonkin, Hanoi
 
Hebrard's Science University, Hanoi
Photo: Mark Bowyer Hebrard's Science University, Hanoi
 
The old Bank of Indochina, Hanoi - now the State Bank
Photo: Mark Bowyer The old Bank of Indochina, Hanoi - now the State Bank
 

The State Bank building takes that style in a new direction with strong art deco features, as well as the overbearing grandiosity prized by financial institutions. During colonial times, this was the Bank of Indochina.

This is an easy area to walk in (unlike the Old Quarter which tends to be hell) - and was even manageable on a 38 degree July day thanks to the tree cover.

The “French Quarter” is definitely not the only place for walking in Hanoi. Nor is it home to all of the city’s dramatic colonial era architecture.

I’ll soon be adding a walk through the Old Quarter to Ba Dinh Square that will showcase more colonial as well as local architecture and local life.

Mark Bowyer
Mark Bowyer is the founder and publisher of Rusty Compass.
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