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Hanoi Shabby Chic

Vietnam's French connection is apparent in its old architecture

French Indochina consisted of colonised territories in Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and southern China. The French began establishing colonies in South East Asia in the 1850s and 60s in order to expand their empire and exploit resources. However, anti French, anti catholic and anti colonial uprisings and discontent continued in Vietnam throughout France's 100 years of rule.

The number of French citizens in Vietnam was never particularly high, however the French influence in language, politics, education, justice and economics was significant. The French monopolised trade and tightly controlled government and administrative affairs. They also invested heavily in transportation, infrastructure and architecture.

Throughout much of the colonial era the administrative capital of Vietnam was Hanoi. It is here that a large number of French-inspired architecture is located. The "beaux arts" style Hanoi Opera House and Notre Dame inspired St Joesph's cathedral are two stunning examples. But a lot of smaller administration and residential buildings also embrace the European architectural trends of the late 19th century. Today they are shabby chic remnants of the past.


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