VietnamHanoiWhat's Special about the French Quarter in Hanoi

What’s Special about the French Quarter in Hanoi

“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 architecture, and locals can embrace the city’s history. Let’s scroll down for more ideas to explore this fascinating part of Vietnam’s capital.

Introduction to the French Quarter in Hanoi

Although French architecture can be found around Hanoi, the little corner right next to the Hoan Kiem Lake is the most heavily influenced by French cultures and aesthetics. The French Quarter in Hanoi was formed mainly from the late nineteenth century to 1954 to imbue the elite Western lifestyle into the local Vietnamese scene and create a specialized area for French governors and soldiers. Hence, the combination of French architecture and local cultural heritage.

The most iconic constructions of the French Quarter in Hanoi, such as the St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Hoa Lo Prison, and Hanoi Opera House, are in Hoan Kiem District.

While the abovementioned spots have become tourist attractions, some towers have been renovated 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 is now the headquarters of Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In addition, many private villas of colonial officers and businessmen have become embassies or representative offices of non-government organizations.

Unique Things to Do in the French Quarter in Hanoi

Top Attractions in the French Quarter in Hanoi

St. Joseph’s Cathedral

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
Opening hours:
Monday – Saturday: 8 AM – 11 AM; 2 PM – 5 PM
Sunday: 7 AM – 10:30 AM; 3 PM – 9 PM
Entrance fee: Free

Hanoi Opera House

Constructed in the early twentieth century, the Hanoi Opera House simulates the Opera Garnier in Paris. Though it resembles the original version in a neoclassical vibe, the yellow and creamy paint differentiates the Indochinese architecture. Initially, this was a venue for classic performances like opera, chamber music, and drama, and it is still an operating opera house that hosts 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

Hoa Lo Prison Museum

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

The National Museum of Vietnamese History

The National Museum of Vietnamese History has two locations with different constructions: Tran Quang Khai Street and Trang Tien Street. The former’s facade is an Asian-European architectural combination, while the latter’s is a signature design of Vietnamese architecture. However, the interiors of both buildings are inspired by the French style, and artifacts represent 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

Best Restaurants and Shops in the French Quarter in Hanoi


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 with freshly and meticulously baked goodies.

Address: 8 Phan Chu Trinh Street, Trang Tien Ward, Hoan Kiem District
Opening hours: 7 AM – 10:30 PM

Au Delice

Since you’re visiting the French Quarter in Hanoi, it would be an omission if we do not mention any French restaurants. 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 this restaurant’s French gastronomy.

Address: 2B Ngo Thi Nham, Hang Bai Ward, Hoan Kiem District
Opening hours: 9 AM – 10 PM
Price: VND 200,000 – 500,00

Sen Buffet

If you like Asian cuisine, Sen Buffet is an ideal place to have dinner. The restaurant offers various dishes, 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, book your table in advance.

Address: 60 Ly Thai To, Hoan Kiem District
Opening hours: 6 AM – 10 PM

Trang Tien Plaza

Located in the luxury French Quarter, Trang Tien Plaza is always among the top shopping malls in Hanoi. It offers 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

Check prices and reviews of top hotels in the French Quarter in Hanoi:

Conclusion of 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.

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