Consulate General of France in HCMC welcomes visitors on European Heritage Days

By Bich Phuong   September 14, 2023 | 01:30 am PT
The Consulate General of France in Ho Chi Minh City opens its doors during this weekend's "European Heritage Days," offering digital exploration and cultural immersion.

The 151-year-old French architectural building at 6 Le Duan Street in District 1will open its doors to the public on September 16, offering free admission for a maximum duration of 30 minutes.

The Consulate General has added a digital twist to this year's program. Throughout the tour, QR codes are strategically placed in three languages - Vietnamese, English, and French - providing visitors with an opportunity to uncover the history and stories surrounding the building.

Visitors will receive postcards enhanced with augmented reality (AR) technology, allowing them to witness the mansion's evolution over time. Augmented reality enhances the real-world environment with virtual elements, which can be accessed via smartphones, computers, or other electronic devices.

Bên ngoài tòa dinh thự cổ, ảnh chụp năm 2018. Ảnh: Quỳnh Trần

Lush greenery envelops the mansion. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran

To participate in this experience, visitors are required to pre-register through the Consulate General of France's Facebook page and website. As demand for tour slots is high, it is advisable to secure reservations in advance. This weekend's tour offers a peek inside the mansion and its gardens, plus a chance to enjoy French cuisine.

At the heart of the mansion lies the stateroom, primarily used for hosting consul general events. The room features a blend of Eastern and Western furnishings, displaying old items that represent the art and beliefs in Vietnam from the 19th and 20th centuries. One impressive piece is "The Process," a lacquer painting made by Nguyen Gia Tri, the pioneer in lacquer painting in Vietnam, in 1939.

The mansion has a huge garden that covers 1.5 hectares and is filled with ancient trees, some as old as the mansion. This green space is a safe haven for rare animals like ferrets, squirrels, and different kinds of birds.

Constructed in 1872, the mansion shares its historical significance with other iconic French architectural landmarks in Ho Chi Minh City, such as the Norodom Palace (now Independence Palace), St. Joseph's Seminary, and Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral.

The Consulate General of France served as the residence of the colonial military governor and later housed the French army's commander-in-chief in Cochinchina. After 1954, it became the residence of the French ambassador to southern Vietnam. Following the country's reunification in 1975, it became the private residence of the French consul general.

Khu vực hành lang gần phòng khánh tiết trong dinh Tổng lãnh sự Pháp, ảnh chụp năm 2022. Ảnh: Quỳnh Trần

The hallway adjacent to the stateroom within the Consulate General of France's mansion. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran

Every year, the mansion opens its doors to the public for one day during "European Heritage Days." Last year, it welcomed more than 1,000 visitors.

The event started in 1984 as a French initiative, allowing people to explore normally inaccessible sites. Since 1985, it has expanded across the European Union and was renamed "European Heritage Days" in 2000. This year marks the 40th edition of this event.

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