“An outdoor exhibition of French architecture” is how we can describe the French Quarter in Hanoi. It's where foreign visitors can admire the refined architectures, and locals can embrace the city's history. Let’s scroll down for more ideas to explore this fascinating part of Vietnam’s capital.
Although French architectures can be found scattering around Hanoi, it is the little corner right next to the Hoan Kiem Lake that is the most heavily influenced by the French cultures and aesthetics. The French Quarter in Hanoi was formed and developed mainly from the late nineteenth century to 1954 as an effort to imbue the elite Western lifestyle into the local Vietnamese scene, and to create a specialized area for the French governors and soldiers, hence the combination of French architecture and local cultural heritage.
Most iconic constructions of the French Quarter in Hanoi, such as the St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Hoa Lo Prison, and Hanoi Opera House, can be found in Hoan Kiem District.
While the abovementioned spots have become tourist attractions, some edifices have been renovated and used for administrative purposes. For instance, the Albert Sarraut High School is currently the Office of the Party Central Committee, and the Indochina Department of Finance transformed into the headquarters of Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In addition, many private villas of colonial officers and businessmen have turned into embassies or representative offices of non-government organizations.
St. Joseph’s Cathedral is the first construction of French colonialists in Indochina and the oldest church in Hanoi. Inspired by the Paris Notre Dame, its neo-Gothic design is shown through stained-glass windows, hollow spaces, and pointed arches. Interestingly, the building was erected on the ground of the sacred Bao Thien Pagoda, which sparked enormous controversies at the time when religious matters correlated with political issues in Vietnam.
Now it is a place of interest, a marvelous photo shooting spot, and a sacred destination for churchgoers.
Address: 40 Nha Chung Street, Hang Trong Ward, Hoan Kiem District
Monday - Saturday: 8 AM - 11 AM; 2 PM - 5 PM
Sunday: 7 AM - 10:30 AM; 3 PM - 9 PM
Entrance fee: Free
Many couples enjoy having photoshoots for their pre-wedding albums in front of the
Constructed in the early twentieth century, Hanoi Opera House is a simulation of the Opera Garnier in Paris. Though it bears a neoclassical vibe of the original version, the yellow and creamy paint differentiate the Indochinese architecture. Initially, this was a venue for classic performances like opera, chamber music, and drama, and is now still an operating opera house hosting press conferences, concerts, and national meetings.
Address: 01 Trang Tien, Phan Chu Trinh Ward, Hoan Kiem District
Opening hours (for visitors): 10:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Show ticket price: VND 400.000 - VND 2.000.000
Want to catch some glimpses of this masterpiece before visiting? Spare a few minutes to take a virtual tour
As a testament to the Indochina War, Hoa Lo Prison will help you trace back to this disastrous era of Vietnam’s history. Once entering, don’t be surprised if you have goosebumps since the pictures, models, artifacts, and space itself vividly reappear the brutality and violence of this prison.
Address: 01 Hoa Lo, Tran Hung Dao Ward, Hoan Kiem District
Opening hours: 8 AM – 5 PM (closes for lunch from 11:30 AM - 1:30 PM)
Entrance fee: VND 30,000
After the 1954 Geneva Accords, Hoa Lo Prison was used to jail spies and American pilots. As the treatment for prisoners was so nice, the place was sarcastically called “Hanoi Hilton”
The National Museum of Vietnamese History has two locations with two different constructions, one on Tran Quang Khai Street and the other on Trang Tien Street. The facade of the former is an Asian-European architectural combination, while that of the latter is a signature design of Vietnamese architecture. However, inside both buildings, the interior is inspired by the French style, and there are artifacts representing various eras of Vietnam’s history.
Location 1: 01 Trang Tien, Phan Chu Trinh Ward, Hoan Kiem District
Location 2: 216 Tran Quang Khai, Trang Tien Ward, Hoan Kiem District
Opening hours: 8 AM -12:00 PM, 1:30 PM - 5:30 PM
Entrance fee: VND 40,000
The first building of the museum is for prehistoric eras and feudal dynasties in Vietnam
Meanwhile, the second building mainly exhibits Vietnam in modern times - characterized by the Indochina War and Vietnam War
After a long day strolling through the French Quarter in Hanoi, why not give yourself a sweet treat? As its name reveals, O’Douceurs is a French patisserie where you can have a small tea party freshly and meticulously baked goodies.
Address: 8 Phan Chu Trinh Street, Trang Tien Ward, Hoan Kiem District
Opening hours: 7 AM – 10:30 PM
Cakes at O’Douceurs are not only appetizing but also photogenic
Since you’re visiting the French Quarter in Hanoi, it would be an omission if we do not mention any French restaurant. Au Delice is our recommendation since both its decoration and meals are highly rated by customers. Whether you opt for lamb, fish, or cheese, you will be satisfied with the French gastronomy that this restaurant offers.
Address: 2B Ngo Thi Nham, Hang Bai Ward, Hoan Kiem District
Opening hours: 9 AM – 10 PM
Price: VND 200,000 – 500,000
Au Delice’s charming look
In case you are fond of Asian cuisine, Sen Buffet is an ideal place to have dinner. The restaurant offers a wide variety of dishes, ranging from Japanese sushi to Vietnamese spring rolls, so you can enjoy delicacies from many countries in just one evening. As the restaurant is quite crowded, make sure you book the table in advance.
Address: 60 Ly Thai To, Hoan Kiem District
Opening hours: 6 AM – 10 PM
Its interior is a combination of European and Oriental styles
Located in the luxury French Quarter, Trang Tien Plaza is always among top shopping malls in Hanoi with a world of Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Dior, and other luxurious brands.
Address: 24 Hai Ba Trung Street, Trang Tien Ward, Hoan Kiem District
Opening hour: 9:30 AM – 9:30 PM
Situated at the corner of the street, the mall captivates everyone’s attention
Check prices and reviews of top hotels in the French Quarter in Hanoi:
With a hundred-year history, the French Quarter in Hanoi is a must-visit spot for those intending to discover every aspect of this city. Unlike the Hanoi Old Quarter, where you can have an insight into the local life in the past centuries, the French Quarter is a historical lens into the French colonialism and the cultural-shifting period in Vietnam.
© Written by Uyen Ho for itourvn.com