If you want to experience typical French classical architecture without actually going to France, drop by the Le Duan Boulevard, where the Ho Chi Minh City Notre Dame Cathedral stands. This magnificent twin-towered, neo-Romanesque structure was built by the French during their colonial occupation in Saigon in the late 19th century. It is an exact duplicate of the Notre Dame Cathedral found in Paris, France, though a much smaller version.
The Notre Dame Cathedral was built with the original in mind, and attractive red bricks, as well as the original stained-glass windows, were brought all the way from France to Vietnam. Nevertheless, you will notice that there are no more stained-glass windows in the cathedral; they were destroyed during World War II and only replaced with plain glass.
This Catholic structure is only open to the public during certain hours of the day, but during Sundays, there are services held in both Vietnamese and English attended by people from diverse nationalities.
Right in front of the cathedral is a small square, where a beautiful statue of the Virgin Mary stands. Locals and young children can be seen hanging about the square selling their goods and wares. Note that you may be horded by these persistent vendors.
Facing the square, adjacent to the cathedral, is the Central Post Office. It was built about the same time as the cathedral and is also influenced by French designs and architecture. There is a gigantic clock at the entrance, and a huge picture of Ho Chi Minh hangs right at the end of the spacious interior of the post office.
Both the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Central Post Office in downtown Ho Chi Minh City represent the influence of the French during their colonial rule over Vietnam and Catholicism in southern Vietnam.