(Photo: Viet Tuan)

(Photo: Viet Tuan)

Leaders in Hoi An ancient town in central Quang Nam province have met with Mr. Vincent Floreani, French Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City, to discuss a project renovating the Vietnamese - French Cultural Street.

Together with the Hoi An - Japan cultural space located in the west of the ancient town, the restoration of the Vietnam - France cultural space in the eastern area not only contributes to developing the unique values of the ancient town but also helps diversify tourism products and regulate the tourist space.

The French presence in Vietnam strongly affected the urbanization process in Hoi An. The people of the town at that time were free to build their houses and decorate them at will. However, with the cultural identity of the traders, plus cultural acculturation, many houses in Hoi An have Vietnamese and Chinese interior décor but French-style façades.

The French influence also remains through large architectural works such as offices, markets, and churches. French architecture and culture therefore made an important contribution to the development of the ancient town.

With the conservation efforts of authorities and the owners of the monuments, French architectural works remain intact today. French houses are located along both sides of Nguyen Thai Hoc and Bach Dang Streets and scattered along Tran Phu and Phan Chau Trinh Streets. In particular, Phan Boi Chau is often called “French Street” because it has 77 architectural sites, many of which are in the French architectural style.

“We have wanted to restore the French streets for such a long time,” said Mr. Nguyen Van Son, Vice Chairman of Hoi An. “Not only residents of Hoi An but also domestic and foreign tourists love the French architecture and culture found here. The renovation of French architectural works not only helps Hoi An promote its unique values but also helps to develop local tourism, create more livelihoods, and improve people’s lives.”

The immediate targets of the renovation include all of Phan Boi Chau Street and part of Truong Minh Luong Street. The house at 33-35 Phan Boi Chau Street will be a venue for activities and a center for coordinating activities along the entire French route. In the long run, the French area will be expanded to Huyen Tran Cong Chua Street. Some houses on Nguyen Duy Hieu and Pham Hong Thai Streets will have their facades converted into the French architectural style.

Mr. Floreani expressed his agreement with Hoi An’s plan. “We are very happy because the French left unique cultural and architectural imprints in Hoi An ancient town,” he said. “We also admire the efforts of authorities and the people to preserve and restore these great cultural values. We are ready to cooperate with Hoi An to form a Vietnamese-French cultural space. This cultural cooperation will help showcase and affirm the strong diplomatic relations between the two countries.”

By Jessica Nguyen/Vietnam Economic Times