The first time we arrived in
But there was a time when the French really knew how to build! Anyone who has visited
In France, architecture meets landscape meets climate meets culinary tradition meets great wines meets deep wine cellars meets wondrous dinner parties meets family histories meets tragedies meets life and all of it gets tied up in a bundle of intense experience.
In French Indochina, they tried to do the same. Anyone walking through the Hotel Métropole in
Of course, for the 'natives' that adventure was not always
Even outside the great centres every now and then you stumble upon yet another of these monuments to
The terra-cotta roofs are caving in, the great pillars are crumbling. Their hallways are now used for refuse. Some of them could collapse at any moment and yet children play in them, oblivious to Canadian safety standards.
The modern Frenchman is probably the most un-patriotic person alive. Long gone are the days when French explorers here or in Africa would set up camp, raise the Tricoleur and write in their journals that they had recreated a “petit coin de France”. The best they can muster in the way of national pride is when they go home after a trip abroad and sigh, “On est quand même bien en
And yet despite themselves when passing in front of these vestiges, French tourists will stop and remember that they too once had a spirit of Manifest Destiny.