Huỳnh Thùy Lê Ancient house is one of the most unique architectural works in the Mekong Delta. It was also famous for a love affair between its owner Mr.Lê and Marguerite Duras, a French writer, in the early years of the twentieth century. Currently, this ancient house is a popular tourist destination in Đồng Tháp province, attracting a large number of tourists coming to visit.
What’s unique about Huỳnh Thủy Lê Ancient house?
The house was built in 1895 by Mr. Huỳnh Cẩm Thuận (father of Mr.Huỳnh Thủy Lê), a famous Chinese merchant in the area, at a busy trading hub on the Sa Đéc riverfront. When Mr.Thuận passed away, Mr.Huỳnh Thủy Lê inherited the house and renovated it in 1917. After Lê’s death in 1972, his wife and children settled overseas, leaving the house unused. It became a police headquarters until 2007 when it was repurposed as a tourist destination in Mekong Delta.
The ancient house has three chambers, in the typical architecture in the Southwest region. On the outside, it looks like a French-architecture villa. However, the inner bears an architectural style with bold Chinese colors. The roof is covered with yin and yang tiles, the two sides of the gable are curved in the shape of a boat in the style of temples in the North region. The arches have a 17th-century Roman design with engraved patterns of flowers, plants, and birds. The area of the house is not a large but luxurious interior design. It is divided into 3 compartments, the outer part was serving as a worship and reception area while the remaining areas were used as bedrooms, a garage, a kitchen, and a garden with a total of 2,000 square-meter. However, due to urbanization, the current area has been reduced to 258 square meters reserving only the main building.
All the bricks for the house are imported from France while the precious wood was imported from Cambodia. The house owners honored Guan Yu, a military general serving under the warlord Liu Bei during the late Eastern Han dynasty of China. Mr.Lê’s father invited artists in Fujian, China, to come here to paint a Guan Yu portrait in gold color, which is placed at the center of the house. This painting was considered one of the best paintings in the Mekong Delta region. furthermore, all wooden furniture like wardrobes, beds, and altars were delicately carved representing the nobility of the homeowner. And until now, most of the house’s interior such as a watch, mirror, chandelier, liquor cabinet, vases, TVs …to small things including a set of teapot, dishes, cups… are still intact.
L’Amant (The Lover)
Huỳnh Thủy Lê ancient house is associated with the famous novel L’Amant and a film of the same name, describe the true love of Mr.Lê with the French writer Marguerite Duras. Due to misalliance and cultural differences between the East and the West, Mr.Thuận (father of Mr. Lê) did not allow them to get married. The relationship broke up after 18 months. And this love later became a memoir for her to write the famous novel “L’Amant” that won the 1984 Prix Goncourt (France’s most prestigious literary award). The novel has been translated into 43 difference languages and adapted into a movie directed by Jean Jacques Annaud and released in 1992. Some scenes were shot in Saigon, Cần Thơ, Sa Đéc but not in this house. The film crew had to borrow the Bình Thủy ancient house in Cần Thơ for the setting.
- Address: 255A Nguyễn Huệ Street, Ward 4, Sa Đéc city, Đồng Tháp Province.
- Best for: Family, solo, couple
- Entrance: ~20,000VND
- Opening Hours: Daily 07:00 – 18:00
- Other tourist spots nearby: Xẻo Quyét Relic Area, Gáo Giồng eco-tourism area, Sa Đéc flower gardens, Tràm Chim National Park, The tomb of Nguyễn Sinh Sắc, Kiến An Cung temple…