There is definitely a French influence in Ho Chi Minh City that extends beyond their architecture. You can see it in their baugettes. And even Pho is said to have combined Chinese and French influence. There are many shops selling oil paintings and the Vietnam has it’s own artists and writers. But the Architecture is the most striking.
I also noticed that the chairs at cafes face outward to facilitate people watching, just like in Paris. The thick black cables, motorbikes, heat, dust and lovely Vietnamese people, remind you that you are unmistakably, in the charming embrace of South East Asia.
I also heard quite a bit of French when I was there. I think most of the tourists there were French. I have a French relative who told me that she was very depressed when she went to the war museums there and I did not have the heart to go myself. It would be an eye opener, but I think I would be depressed, haunted and have nightmares for weeks. My partner who visited one of the war museums was also affected when they brought around a little girl who had the disfigured head of an ‘elephant man’ due to the chemical poisoning during the war. The Americans who were with him at the time just felt so awful.
Because it was Tet most of the attractions were closed, but we did manage to go into the Saigon Central Post Office. It has a French Gothic style and was designed by the famed Gustave Eiffel.
Also took photos of the Notre Dame Cathedral which was just adjacent to it. This church was fully constructed by 1880.
I found both the exterior and interior of the Continental Hotel, just beautiful. A friend who recently visited Ho Chi Minh City as well, stayed here and raved about the hotel.
Another hotel with pretty French Architecture, was The Majestic. I supposed these have been restored because they look so new. Arches, chandeliers and little balcony boxes with iron wrought grills were some of the features I noticed when I looked at the buildings and compared them to the ones in Paris.
Another prominent building which I found captivating, was the Saigon Opera House, built in 1897, which looked even more spectacular at night.