Once established, having installed modern infrastructure and imposed stately government buildings, as their colonial commercial adventure developed and endured, the French lived graciously in Hanoi. Their elaborate villas and mansions bear witness to their status as masters. Servants did the menial tasks and colonial life became a fashionable social whirl of cafes and restaurants; shopping, parties and dances; concerts, the theatre and latterly, the cinema; punctuated by regular visits to the races, the club sportif and the casino, which doubled as an unofficial club.
French architecture in Hanoi represents a wide spectrum of styles, harking backwards to the classicism of the Third Republic and forward to the Beaux Arts, Art Deco and modernism of the first half of the twentieth century, plus the hybrid Indochinese style that developed here.
Hanoi’s finest landmarks of colonial architecture are concentrated in two main areas. Suppose we stroll round the centre Of the city to the east and south of Hoan Kiem Lake, possibly dividing this meander into two strolls or you might prefer to hire a cyclo The third cluster of grand official buildings around Ba Dinh Square needs a taxi or a motorbike taxi (xe 0m).