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French consulate opens to visitors in Ho Chi Minh City

Saturday, September 21, 2019, 18:42 GMT+7
French consulate opens to visitors in Ho Chi Minh City
The main building of the Consulate General of France in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuan Son / Tuoi Tre News

The Consulate General of France in Ho Chi Minh City on Saturday swung its doors open to public visitors as part of events dedicated to honoring European heritage.

Students from various universities and high schools in the city as well as those interested in French culture and heritage were able to register beforehand to visit the historical residence through an online form.

Visitors were divided into small groups and taken on 30-minute tours that took place between 8:00 am and 5:30 pm, with a one-hour lunch break between 12:00-1:00 pm.

“Visitors can admire this historic building, discover the secrets that circulate in its passageways, observe the centenary trees of its park, and taste French products,” the French Consulate General said in a press release.

French Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City Vincent Floreani pose for photos with a group of visitors on the European Heritage Days, September 21, 2019. Photo: Tuan Son / Tuoi Tre News
French Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City Vincent Floreani poses for photos with a group of visitors on the European Heritage Days, September 21, 2019. Photo: Tuan Son / Tuoi Tre News

The event is part of the European Heritage Days (EHD), a joint action of the Council of Europe and the European Commission involving 50 countries in Europe.

The annual program offers opportunities to visit buildings, monuments and sites - many of which are not normally accessible to the public, and aims to widen access and foster care for architectural and environmental heritage.

“I’m passionate about French culture, so this is a great opportunity for me to get to know more about the country,” Anh Thi, a university student, told Tuoi Tre News.

French Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City Vincent Floreani presents about the Consulate General residence to visitors on the European Heritage Days, September 21, 2019. Photo: Tuan Son / Tuoi Tre News
French Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City Vincent Floreani presents about the Consulate General residence to visitors on the European Heritage Days, September 21, 2019. Photo: Tuan Son / Tuoi Tre News

Last year, the Consulate General of France in Ho Chi Minh City welcomed more than 1,300 visitors on Open Doors Day, with the number of visitors this year expected to be even more, Consul General Vincent Floreani said.

An exhibition on the French imprint in the architecture of Ho Chi Minh City was also set up on the consulate grounds using photos and documents provided by the State Records Management and Archives Department of Vietnam.

French Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City Vincent Floreani presents about the Consulate General residence to visitors on the European Heritage Days, September 21, 2019. Photo: Tuan Son / Tuoi Tre News
French Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City Vincent Floreani presents about the Consulate General residence to visitors on the European Heritage Days, September 21, 2019. Photo: Tuan Son / Tuoi Tre News

Built in 1872 by the engineers of the French Navy, the French consulate general is located at the historical center of Ho Chi Minh City in what was formerly known as Saigon.

It was constructed around the same time as other popular landmarks in the city such as the Saint-Joseph Major Seminary and the Reunification Palace. The residence was inaugurated five years before the Notre-Dame Cathedral of Saigon and 14 years before the city’s Central Post Office.

It used to serve as the Embassy of France before the reunification of Vietnam in 1975.

French Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City Vincent Floreani chats with a group of visitors on the European Heritage Days, September 21, 2019. Photo: Tuan Son / Tuoi Tre News
French Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City Vincent Floreani chats with a group of visitors on the European Heritage Days, September 21, 2019. Photo: Tuan Son / Tuoi Tre News

Various rare antiques and paintings representative of the Vietnamese arts in the 19th and 20th centuries, including a 1939 work by famed painter Nguyen Gia Tri, are displayed inside the main building of the residence.

The consulate general also houses the city’s largest private park that spans more than 1.5 hectares and is home to trees older than the residence itself.

A private park inside the Consulate General of France in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuan Son / Tuoi Tre News
A private park inside the Consulate General of France in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuan Son / Tuoi Tre News

Consul General Floreani told Tuoi Tre News the residence underwent a major restoration in 2000, and annual repairs are conducted by experts to make sure the historical buildings and structures are in good shape.

Regular maintenance has allowed most parts of the residence to remain in use since the date of construction, he said.

The French Consulate General is also working with the administration of Ho Chi Minh City to plan similar open doors days for French buildings that are now under the city’s management, with the first events of such kind expected to be hosted as early as next year, Floreani said.

French Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City Vincent Floreani presents about a painting by Nguyen Gia Tri to visitors on the European Heritage Days, September 21, 2019. Photo: Tuan Son / Tuoi Tre News
French Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City Vincent Floreani presents about a painting by Nguyen Gia Tri to visitors on the European Heritage Days, September 21, 2019. Photo: Tuan Son / Tuoi Tre News

The European Heritage Days began in France in 1984 under the name ‘La Journée Portes Ouvertes’ (Open Doors Day), sponsored by the French Ministry of Culture, and quickly spread to other European neighbors.

In 1991 these events were united as European Heritage Days at the initiative of the Council of Europe, supported by the Europen Union.

A reception room inside the Consulate General of France in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuan Son / Tuoi Tre News
A reception room inside the Consulate General of France in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuan Son / Tuoi Tre News
A dining room inside the Consulate General of France in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuan Son / Tuoi Tre News
A dining room inside the Consulate General of France in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuan Son / Tuoi Tre News
A hallway inside the Consulate General of France in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuan Son / Tuoi Tre News
A hallway inside the Consulate General of France in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuan Son / Tuoi Tre News
A view inside the Consulate General of France in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuan Son / Tuoi Tre News
A view inside the Consulate General of France in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuan Son / Tuoi Tre News
A French-made antique clock inside the Consulate General of France in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuan Son / Tuoi Tre News
A French-made antique clock inside the Consulate General of France in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuan Son / Tuoi Tre News
The main building of the Consulate General of France in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuan Son / Tuoi Tre News
The main building of the Consulate General of France in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuan Son / Tuoi Tre News
Dining utensils are displayed inside the Consulate General of France in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuan Son / Tuoi Tre News
Dining utensils are displayed inside the Consulate General of France in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuan Son / Tuoi Tre News
Silverware dating from the Napoleon III period are displayed inside the Consulate General of France in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuan Son / Tuoi Tre News
Silverware dating from the Napoleon III period are displayed inside the Consulate General of France in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuan Son / Tuoi Tre News
French Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City Vincent Floreani presents about the Consulate General residence to visitors on the European Heritage Days, September 21, 2019. Photo: Tuan Son / Tuoi Tre News
French Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City Vincent Floreani presents about the Consulate General residence to visitors on the European Heritage Days, September 21, 2019. Photo: Tuan Son / Tuoi Tre News
French Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City Vincent Floreani presents about the Consulate General residence to visitors on the European Heritage Days, September 21, 2019. Photo: Tuan Son / Tuoi Tre News
French Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City Vincent Floreani presents about the Consulate General residence to visitors on the European Heritage Days, September 21, 2019. Photo: Tuan Son / Tuoi Tre News

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