Hotel des colonies

Hotel des Colonies
Hotel des Colonies

The French settlement in Shanghai was started in 1884, but it did not grow as fast as the British (then international) next to it. When the international settlement was busy with traders shipping things in and out of China, the French settlement remain a much quieter place, eventually extended to become the residential and garden city of Shanghai.
One of the few prominent buildings of the French settlement, was the “Hotel des colonies”, the only hotel of the French settlement for quite a long time. It was located on “Rue du Consulat” near the “Quai de France”, the French part of the Bund located South from the Bund itself. “Hotel des colonies” is mentioned in “Les Francais de Shanghai” and was clearly an important location both for traders coming to Shanghai and for the community. Some of the traders based in Shanghai  even lived there for years.
I found the enclosed postcard in an antic shop in Malacca. It was written in Saigon and sent to Shanghai by the post, carried by ship to Shanghai, another French settlement. More than the picture on the front, it’s the address of on the back that caught my attention. The postcard is simply addressed to “Monsieur Millon, Voyageur, Hotel des Colonies, Shanghai”. No street, no number only the hotel’s name, where the card would wait for the traveler to arrive and collect it from the counter. “Poste restante”, i.e. letter sent to a post office and remaining their until the receiver collects it used to be quite a popular mean of sending letter, although it’s quite difficult to imagine it today. It’s just nice to think about a time when time schedule was so relaxed, that people would just post the letter and wait for months until an answer arrive… what a change from today’s email. I was still quite happy to be able to check my email in the old port of Malacca. The modern world also has it’s great advantages.

3 thoughts on “Hotel des colonies”

  1. The Hôtel des Colonies was my great-grand-father hotel !! Many thanks for this article and the information it provides. I will leave France for Shanghai in two months and will be happy to go back onto my ancestors steps knowing this ! Merci

  2. My grandfather, who first traveled to Beijing in 1886, stopped over in Shanghaï, and spent three nights at the Hotel des Colonies while visiting the French Consulate. He was a young interpreter, just graduated from the Paris School of Asian Languages, and appointed as an official interpreter at the French Legation in Beijing. At the hotel, he wrote to his brother, based in France, how elegant was the French Concession, and how well received he was at the Hotel des Colonies.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *