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Cape St. Jacques
Vũng Tàu

Au large du Cap Saint-Jacques

From Marseille, the voyage could last up to two months, depending on the ports of call: Mers el Kébir, Alexandria, Port Said, Djibouti, Aden, before reaching the Indian Ocean, then Colombo, Singapore – Cape St. Jacques is the first land seen by travelers arriving in Indochina.

Paysages du Cap Saint-Jacques Souvenir du Cap Saint-Jacques

Cape St. Jacques is located at the end of a small peninsula, 125 Km. Southwest of Saigon at the mouth of the Donnai (Dong Nai).
It was named by Portuguese navigators who sailed along this coast in the 15th century and named it St. Jacques.
Paul Doumer, Governor General of Indochina from 1897 to 1902 built a manor house, the White Villa (in Vietnamese: Bach Dinh), and to this day it is a visual landmark for Vung Tàu. For decades, Cape St. Jacques was the mandatory course for any traveler going to Indochina by boat. .

Le Cap Saint-Jacques

Photo taken by François Sully.
François Sully (1927-1971) as a French journalist and photographer best known for his work during the Vietnam War. Sully was one of the earliest journalists to cover the Vietnam War and spent 24 years in Indochina. At the time of his death in a command helicopter crash near the Cambodian border, he was viewed as the dean of the Saigon press corps.

Un beau soir d'avril 1955 au Cap Saint-Jacques

A beautiful April evening in 1955 at Cape St. Jacques.

Un beau soir au Cap Saint-Jacques

Ocean Liners near Cape St. Jacques

Paquebot type Cap Saint-Jacques Chargeurs Réunis Paquebot Cambodge

Left photo: A Cape St. Jacques-type liner (Chargeurs Réunis Line) steaming up the Saigon River.
Right photo: The liner “Cambodge” (Messageries Maritimes Line) off Cape St. Jacques.

The Cape St. Jacques Line in Saigon

La Chaloupe Argoat Saïgon La Chaloupe Argoat Saïgon Cap Saint-Jacques

The ship “Argoat” provided daily service from Cape St. Jacques (Rach Dua) to Saigon (dock near the Hotel Majestic), and the other ship providing the connection in the other direction was the “Armor”.
With the Armor and the Argoat Breton sailors were quite in evidence in this part of Indochina!!
At the end of the war in Indochina in 1954, the newly secured road would outpace the river link by halving the travel time, and the line would be abandoned in 1955.
Today the trip by hydrofoil (of Russian manufacture) from Cape St. Jacques (Vung Tàu) to Saigon is made in 1 hour, 30 minutes instead of the 5 to 6 hours according to the tides at the beginning of the ‘50’s.

The Lighthouse
Den Pha

Le Phare du Cap Saint-Jacques Le Phare du Cap Saint-Jacques Le Phare du Cap Saint-Jacques

The Cape St. Jacques lighthouse is located on top of the Telegraph mountain (now Nui Nho), with the present structure having been built in 1911.
It is 3 meters in diameter and 18 meters tall; next to it are four old French cannons (10 meters long and weighing several tons). They were formerly used to defend the region against naval attacks.
The lighthouse provides an exceptional panoramic view over the entire Cape St. Jacques (Vung Tau).
It is fitted with a lighthouse lens designed by Henry Lepaute Company, located at 11, Desnouettes Street in the 15th district of Paris.

Souvenir d'un couple de Français au Cap Saint-Jacques en 1953 Touristes vietnamiens au Cap Saint-Jacques en 1956


Souvenirs from Cape St. Jacques

Les pêcheurs du Cap Saint-Jacques Un bateau de pêcheur du Cap Saint-Jacques Sur la route du rocher Cap Saint-Jacques La route menant à la Villa Blanche Cap Saint-Jacques Souvenir du Cap Saint-Jacques Bord rocheux du Cap Saint-Jacques

Archinard Island

Île Archinard Cap Saint-Jacques Bord rocheux du Cap Pointe Cap Saint-Jacques Île Archinard Cap Saint-Jacques Bord rocheux du Cap Pointe Cap Saint-Jacques

Cape St. Jacques and Archinard Island June 1940.


The sandy beach opens onto the Baie des Cocotiers
(Coconut Bay, Bai Truok)

La plage des cocotiers Cap Saint-Jacques La plage des cocotiers Cap Saint-Jacques

During the ‘50’s, Cape St. Jacques was a beach resort and a R&R center for French soldiers.
- The Mayor’s office was located on the Boulevard des Landes.
- The Grand Hotel was on Lanessan Dock (across from Coconut Beach).

La plage de Cap Pointe Cap Saint-Jacques La Pagode du Tigre Blanc Le Cap Saint-Jacques


Le Cap Saint-Jacques La plage des cocotiers Cap Saint-Jacques

Account of a French soldier staying at Coconut Beach on Cape St. Jacques:
"…And this is why I was granted several days of R&R at Cape St. Jacques and that’s also where I took my first midnight swim!!!
What a pleasure it was to go out to the beach in the evening and to watch those large-shrimp fishermen, who, nearly naked in the water pulled in their nets where one could see the fluorescent eyes of these little creatures that we ate the next day.
It couldn’t last, but we knew that. It’s not like what happened to those who came after us, and who were massacred in the same place where we were.
Jean Gourbil Decembre 1950

Indeed, on July 21st, 1952, an attack by the Vietminh resulted in 20 killed and 23 wounded in an R&R center at Cape St. Jacques.

Centre de repos du Cap Saint-Jacques Maison de Convalescence du Cap-Jacques Vietnam

The R&R center at Cape St. Jacques..

The Cap Pointe (A Quang)

Cap Pointe Cap Saint-Jacques Bord rocheux du Cap Pointe Cap Saint-Jacques


Cape St. Jacques in 1953

Cap Pointe Cap Saint-Jacques 1953 Bord rocheux du Cap Pointe Cap Saint-Jacques

French soldiers eating in Cape St.Jacques restaurant (January 1953).
Preparing a meal on the Cape St.Jacques beach at the same date.

Cape St. Jacques city Center in 1953
The Grand Hotel

Le Grand Hôtel Cap Saint-Jacques 1953 Le Grand Hôtel Cap Saint-Jacques Indochine

The Grand Hotel (Cape St. Jacques) - Nhà Hang Lon (Vũng Tàu)

Le Grand Hôtel Cap Saint-Jacques 1953


St. Jacques Hostelery 1953 Cap St.Jacques Market Square

Left: St. Jacques Hostelery.
Right: Market Square.

Photo Tay Ho

Photo Tay Ho Cap Saint-Jacques 1953 BPhoto Tay Ho Cap Saint-Jacques

Photo Tay Ho - art portrait, amateur work, enlargement photos.
42, Market Square Cape St.Jacques.


Cape St. Jacques in 1955

La plage des cocotiers Cap Saint-Jacques La plage des cocotiers Cap Saint-Jacques

Fishermen in Long Hai (Cape St. Jacques)

Les pêcheurs du Cap Saint-Jacques 1955 Les pêcheurs du Cap Saint-Jacques 1955

© The color slides were taken by Mr. Emile Poizat in 1955.

Une Peugeot 403 sur la plage au Cap Saint-Jacques La plage des cocotiers Cap Saint-Jacques

The beach resort of Vung Tàu has attracted tourists for decades notably those from Saigon arriving every weekend.


The White Villa (or Governor’s Villa)
Bach Dinh (or Dinh Toan Quyen)

La Villa Blanche du Cap Saint-Jacques La Villa du Gouverneur au Cap Saint-Jacques

The White Villa was built in 1898 by the architect Antoine Genet at the request of Paul Doumer, Governor-General of Indochina and future president of the French Republic.
The exterior walls are decorated with pearls and Greek-inspired statues.
It was later used to receive numerous dignitaries of the South Vietnamese Republic (notably Ngo Dinh Diem also his wife madame Nhu and Nguyen Van Thieu) as well as American soldiers; today the White villa is a museum.


The S.O.S. bar at Cape St. Jacques

Le Bar SOS du Cap Saint-Jacques Souvenir du Cap Saint-Jacques en 1954

At the end of the ‘40’s and beginning of the ‘50’s, the S.O.S. bar was the meeting spot for the soldiers of the French Expeditionary Corps on R&R.
The charming bungalow lost in the greenery, that’s the S.O.S., a bar and restaurant lost in Indochina. You can get a drink (neat), you can eat (well), and you can dance (if you want to).
Its terrace swept by the sea breeze is the refuge of poets and dreamers (indeed, quite often both).
You can gaze at the sea to the horizon, white at dawn, red and gold at sunrise then going through purple pink and blue before the divine star sinks back into it.
At night, the lights of the junks and the luminous ray of the lighthouse play strange symphonies.
Jean Petersen

The French Army at Cape St. Jacques

Armée Blindée Cavalerie Indochine Centre Instruction du Cap Saint-Jacques

The Armored Cavalry Training Center at Cape St. Jacques was operational from 1945 to 1955.

The troop children of Cape St. Jacques

Enfants de Troupe IndochineL'école des Enfants de Troupe du Cap Saint-Jacques

The raising of the colors in the presence of captain Morgant at Cape St. Jacques.
The School for Military dDependant Eurasian children of Dalat (EETED) was founded in Dalat (Annam) in 1939, with the motto “Learn in order to serve”.
Following the expansion of recruitment, the word ‘Eurasian’ was dropped and the acronym became EETD.
In 1954, the school was moved to Cape St. Jacques (Cochin China), and then returned to France on February 2nd, 1956, Fréjus in the Var Department.
(Source: Wikipedia)

The French Navy

French Sailor in Cape St Jacques Marine Nationale Le Cap Saint-Jacques

The Commandant’s office at Cape St. Jacques is located on Rue de la Concession near the Fisheries office and the R&R center.

The French Air Force

Armée de l'Air Cap Saint-Jacques Armée de l'Air Cap Saint-Jacques

Left: Transfer of Command of the Gascogne Bomb Group.
Right: Dawn takeoff of a B 26 bomber.

The Foreign Legion

Les légionnaires au travail Cap Saint-Jacques Le cantonnement du bataillon de la Légion

Left: Legionnaires at work.
Right: The housing of the battalion of the Legion.

The new runway at Cape St. Jacques in 1955

Vue Aérienne du Cap Saint-Jacques en 1955

Cape St.Jacques?
For the Commander, a base,
For the aviator, a runway,
For the soldier garrisoned at Saigon, a weekend on the beach,
For the construction battalion, an enormous worksite with all that it represents in work and worries.
When the commander decided to turn Cape St. Jacques into an R&R center for the Expeditionary Corps after the Geneva Accords, it was a peninsula of sand and ponds. At the end of 1955 its runway was usable by B 26’s and there were aviation installations, bridges, housing for 20,000 men, and workshops for technical services.
Nearly 400,000 square meters of earthworks representing the load of 1,000 trains of 50 cars at 10 tons each, 90 barges of 80 tons, and 14,000 truckloads representing 42,000 tons of materials loaded and unloaded, 150,000 square meters of roads and parking areas, 200,000 square meters of covered areas… that’s the result of 12 months of work.
This work is the result of hard work first of the leadership in Saigon and its annex at the Cape, which, backed by the 7/62 and 26/5 Companies built the runway in record time, then the leadership of the Cape created in June 1955 when the Annex was no longer up to the task moved in, got organized, and continued the work already begun.

The Runway

La piste du Cap Saint-Jacques en 1955 La piste du Cap Saint-Jacques en 1955 La piste du Cap Saint-Jacques en 1955

Left: the runway and the 3 Km detour of the R.N. 5 (Saigon-Cape Road).
Center: Aviation support complex.
Right: The old runway, turned into a parking lot.

On July 14th, 1955 the runway was officially opened by the landing of 21 B 26 aircraft. As of August 1st, there were never fewer than 30 aircraft on the airport, with landings varying daily from 30 to 80.
At the end of the year after an exceptional rainy season, no repairs were necessary and on December 15th, operations with 28-ton “Privateer” aircraft confirmed the quality of the job.

Atelier dans un hangar Sarrade et Galtier Le bâtiment Vigie de Rach-Dua

Left: a workshop in one of the ten "Sarrade and Galtier" hangars.
Right: The "Vigie" building at Rach-Dua.
The military piers at Rach-Dua were built in the estuary of the Song Dinh River to serve the maritime transit needs of the units and services stationed at Cape St. Jacques.
It’s the only place on the peninsula where ships up to 5 meters draft (ships of 4 to 6,000 tons) can dock at any time. This draft can go to 10 meters at high tide.

Executive housing development

La cité Logement G.C.R du Cap Saint-Jacques en 1955 La citè des des officiers au Cap Saint-Jacques en 1955

Left: The G.C.R.housing development.
Right: Officer housing development.

Two housing developments were built at Cape St. Jacques in 1955, one for army and air force officers, and the other for the families of the G.C.R (Radio control Group) special services and the S.T.R. (Technical Research Services – Vietminh communications decryption).

La cité Logement G.C.R du Cap Saint-Jacques en 1955 Le mess des officiers au Cap Saint-Jacques en 1955

Left: Interior of G.C.R. housing.
Right: Officer’s Mess.

Begun in May 1955 for the executive development, in August for the G.C.R., construction went on until 1956, but the buildings were occupied as of December 1955.

The Infantry Training Center

C.I.T. Train Indochine La cité Logement G.C.R du Cap Saint-Jacques en 1955

The Radio Broadcast Center

Le Centre Radio du Cap Saint-Jacques en 1956

The radio broadcasting and receiving installations.
In order to assure connections between the base and the outside world, it was necessary to build transmitting and receiving installations able to link Cape St. Jacques with Paris and to the capitals of allied countries in Southeast Asia.
Three units were built by the engineering department and fitted out by the Radio Services and other user services:
- 1 transmitting center including a inter-forces station, an air station, and an intelligence station.
- 1 receiving center including an inter-forces station and an intelligence station.
- 1 transmitting/receiving center in the small mountain including the technical facilities of the signal corps.
The Broadcast Center
The inter-forces station consists of 10 transmitters, 2 of which are 10 kilowatts and 3 antenna arrays.

- 2 diamond-shaped antennas aimed at Paris and mounted on 21-meter towers.
- 5 medium-range antennas aimed at Singapore, Tokyo, Bangkok, and Manila, mounted on 15- and 20-meter masts.
- finally, 4 antennas for in-country communications in Indochina, mounted on 15-meter masts.

The "Pasteur" at Cape St.Jacques

Le Pasteur au large du Cap Saint-Jacques

From October 1945 to February 1956 the "Pasteur" was one of the main cogs in the comings and goings of French soldiers. There were a total of 81 round trips between France and the Far-East.
The "Pasteur" off-loaded her first passengers offshore of Cape St.Jacques because her draft did not allow her to go up the Saigon river. Landing craft or small freighters like the "Saint-Michel" or the"Île d’Oléron" took over from there.
Then she went on to Tourane (Da Nang) and then on to her final destination: the Bay of Along, the port of Haiphong being equally inaccessible for the same reason as that of Saigon.
The duration of these trips was 15 days for Saigon and 20 days for Haiphong.

The farewell of the 5th Foreign Infantry Regiment in Indochina

Des avions chasseurs de l'Armée de l'air française survolent le Pasteur Adieu aux soldats du 5e Régiment Étranger d'Infanterie

In December of 1955 French Air Force fighter planes overfly the troop transport “Pasteur” anchored at Cape St.-Jacques to bid farewell to the soldiers of the 5th Foreign Infantry Regiment. This Tonkin unit, established at that location, is leaving Indochina for the first time in its existence.
© The Xavier Lacrambe collection, by way of J. Brouard


Aerial view on Cape St-Jacques (Vũng Tàu)

Vue aérienne du Cap Saint-Jacques

Aerial view on Cape St-Jacques (Vũng Tàu).
Thanks to à Marie-France.


Cape St. Jacques becomes Vũng Tàu in 1955

Le Centre Ville du Cap Saint-Jacques Eglise du Cap Saint-Jacques

Left: French family in Cap St. Jacques.
© The color slide was taken by Mr. Emile Poizat in 1955.
Right: a Citroën Ami 6 in 1966.

Une rue du Cap Saint-Jacques camion de livraison de la bière 33

Left: a street in Cape St. Jacques.
Right: A delivery truck for ‘33 Export Beer’, produced by Breweries and Coolers of Indochina "BGI".

Nhà Tho church

Cape St-Jacques Church Cape St-Jacques Church Nhà Tho Church Cape St Jacques

The catholic church, built during the French period, is a mixture of Chinese and Western inspiratioin, a bit like the church of Notre-Dame-des-Missions-du Cygne D’Enghein in Epinay-sur-Seine in France.
The church of Cape St. Jacques is located on Tran Hung Dao Street.

The Buddha monument

Le Monument de Boudha Cap Saint-Jacques Interieur du Temple Boudha Cap Saint-Jacques

The Thich Ca Phât pagoda was built in 1961 and was completed in 1963, it is located at 25, Trân Phu Street, 3 Km from downtown Cape St. Jacques.
The beauty of the pagoda is the result of an harmonious pairing of religious architecture.


Vũng Tàu (Cape St. Jacques) in 1968

Le bord de mer, mobylette bleue Vungtau-Cap Saint-Jacques Le cimetière français du Cap Saint-Jacques

Left: Sea-side merchants.
Right: The French military cemetery.
© The color slides were taken in 1968 by Mr. Dick Kennedy, an Australian Army soldier.

Rue Tran Hung Dao Cap Saint-Jacques Eglise du Cap Saint-Jacques

Left: a street in Vũng Tàu.
Right: Downtown with a Peugeot 403.

The Vung Tàu market American radars in Vungtàu

Left: The Vung Tàu market.
Right: American radar has replaced the French antennas.

Ancien bâtiment français devenu QG américain L'ex-plage des cocotiers de Vung Tàu

After the departure of French troops in April 1956 the base was taken over by American advisors and it became the headquarters for the Australian expeditionary corps as well as for certain American units.

The sea side formerly cocotiers beach Vung Tàu The sea side formerly cocotiers beach Vung Tàu

It would again be occupied after 1975 by the Soviets who would run as a joint Russian-Vietnamese operation the “Vietsovpetro” company with the Vietnamese.
The French group, Total, (in partnership with Petrovietnam) operated two platforms offshore of Cape St. Jacques.
This region has become the petroleum center of Vietnam where gas and crude operations dominate the economy of the city and contribute to the main revenue, the budget of Vietnam, and to the export volume.
Uncontrolled construction of numerous hotels as well as an amusement park (with aerial tramway!) above the White Villa has unfortunately and definitively disfigured the coastline of this town.

Publicité du parc d'attractions de Vung Tau Complexe touristique au port de Vung Tau

Vung Tàu in 2011...


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