My father is from the generation called Bac 54, describing more than a million Northerners who moved to the South after Vietnam gained independence from France in 1954. Even so, the French influence remains strong in Vietnam as seen in everything from the pale yellow buildings with white trim dotted around the city to the french baguettes on every corner to the boeuf bourguinon -like bo kho, with the Vietnamese addition of cinnamon and herbs to the local penchant for not-too-sweet cakes. It’s even rumored that the quintessential pho is a derivation of the French pot-au-feu stew. For a concentration of French inspiration, start on the city’s premier shopping street, Dong Khoi (which my 70-something aunt still calls by its French-era name, Rue Catinat), and head north past the Opera House and the gorgeous post office and on to the Notre Dame Cathedral, all examples of French architecture. Stop by Givral’s at the new Vincom A center, right across from the Opera House for a pastry and coffee with a great view out onto the square.