The rue Catinat (Catinat street) is a street, now called Dong Khoi, in Ho Chi Minh City, the former Saigon. It was named after the French Warship "Catinat" that participated in the mid-19th century attacks by France when that country was intent on seizing control of Viet Nam. The ship itself honored Nicolas Catinat, a 17th and 18th century Marshal of France; but application of name to prominent street was intended to remind strollers of the first step toward control of a vanquished nation by a colonial power Before its present incarnation as Dong Khoi visitors to Saigon will remember Tu Do Street, as it was called by the Vietnamese after the French departed.
The street is the location of a number of famous colonial buildings:
- Hotel Continental, the old foreign journalists' hang-out. Restored somewhat earlier than the other hotels, it has a more Vietnamese feel and is cheaper. The outdoor bar is gone, but the lobby one is furnished in rattan.
- Hotel Majestic, located where the street meets the Saigon River. Built in 1925, with a central courtyard and a roof bar. French restoration, French prices.
- Grand Hotel, on the next corner in from the Majestic. A very French restoration—cream stucco and white marble dark mahogany, liveried attendants. The original building, the home of Fowler and Phuong in The Quiet American may be seen among the photos in Norman Sherry's biography of the author.
- Palais Cafe, a bar, also renovated.
Notes and references
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