Like the rest of Laos, Vientiane’s style originates heavily from that of the French. This French cultural influence that still lives on in the city is one of the most enjoyable surprises that await its visitors. Street names are “Rue” something (and more surprisingly – there are street names unlike the rest of Laos), and for breakfast you can have a “chocolat chaud avec croissant et baguette.”
Language and ambience aside, Vientiane’s most notable homage to the French has to be the architecture. There is a Laotian version of France’s Arc de Triomphe, complete with a long stretch of road similar to the Champs Élysées.
Of course, this all plays a part in how Laos became part of the French empire in Southeast Asia. France’s presence in Laos was fairly brief (six decades), yet during this period Vientiane was rebuilt as an unexpectedly charming city, with French tastes and customs deeply coming into play.
While savouring my morning café au lait avec mon pain au chocolat, the charm of Vientiane’s colonial past still saturates the town.