Thursday, April 4, 2013

French Colonial Zhanjiang

I live in an area of Zhanjiang that I call the “French Quarter”.  For fewer than 50 years this city was part of the French colonial empire.  It had been deeded to the French in 1898 for 100 years and they hoped to get good use of its excellent natural port.  The Wikipediaversion of this story is here.  It was a fishing village called Guangzhouwan.
The problem as I see it was that there was not a lot of resources to exploit.  The area has excellent farm land and growing conditions and the fishery at the time was outstanding.  About all they managed to do was to scrape out some coal, and build a railroad.  They also supported missionaries and built a church which stands today. At one point there were some 250 French folks living here, but I imagine that it was not the most exciting place to spend your life, unless you enjoyed swatting mosquitoes.
There is some interesting architecture left over here that hasn’t met the wrecking ball.  Some government buildings and the church are still in use, and a lighthouse is a feature in a park.  Most are kind of derelict dwellings with cobbled walls filling in what were once arched, open verandas and it makes for some interesting sightseeing.
I have found a lot of old images of the area in the form of postcards being sold online.  Here they some of the good ones along with some of what’s left today.
Click the pix for a larger view.

This is the Catholic church just down the street.

Here is the church today.  There is mass every Sunday.
The church is in the background.  This was taken fairly close to where our apartment building is now.
Although it has fallen into disrepair, this building holds offices for the police.

Besides the church, this government building is the best preserved of the old French buildings

These are some buildings around the neighborhood.  There are even some cobblestone streets.

A couple of French kids with their local counterparts.


  1. very interesting with the link to Wikipedia, we have then a true overview of the French territory, with good sources

  2. Will be visiting Zhanjiang, would be grateful if you could advise the details of the Church (preferably with the Chinese name, so I could go with the same, to ask for directions) and the timings of the Holy Mass.

    Thanking you in advance for your assistance!

  3. I was born and grow up in Zhanjiang, now in Canada. Thank you for sharing the amazing images.


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