“Wide open streets, majestic buildings and high-end hotels, restaurants and shops,” is how Travelfish describes Hanoi’s French Quarter. It has an atmosphere “far more refined than the mercantile 36 streets” of the Old Quarter, dotted with “imposing and quite stunning French-style villas” and characterised by “wide tree-lined streets which, while still busy with traffic, are easier to navigate than the narrow alleys of Old Quarter.” Plus it’s “home to some of Hanoi’s ritziest restaurants and hotels.”
The first French concession was granted in 1874, notes Rough Guides, on an “insalubrious plot of land on the banks of the Red River.“ In the process they “destroyed many ancient Vietnamese monuments, which were replaced with Parisian-style buildings and boulevards.” Gradually “elegant villas filled plots along the grid of tree-lined avenues,” spreading south in the 1930s and 1940s towards Thong Nhat (Reunification) Park, “a peaceful but rather featureless expanse of green marking the French Quarter’s southern boundary.”
The architecture here “is the highlight,” observes Conde Nast Traveler. “In the process of building their capital, the French destroyed many of the ancient Vietnamese monuments and replaced them with elegant, Parisian-style buildings.” One of the best examples is the “stately” Opera House, “complete with grey-slate tiles imported from France.” And Trang Tien, the main artery of the French Quarter, is “still a busy shopping street where you'll find bookshops and art galleries” as well as cafés and hotels.