September 30, 2010

NI HAO MA CHINA: The French Concession

The French Concession in the past was an area designated for French traders and businesses; today it’s the hippest and most colorful district in Shanghai. Located in the Luwan and Xuhui District, the French Concession offers European-styled buildings, caf├ęs and restaurants, art galleries and clothing shops, trendy bars and night clubs.

bilingual road signs

You won’t find the name French Concession on any Chinese map, instead look for Fuxing Lu, Shoaxing Lu, Taikang Lu, Huaihai Lu (Lu is Mandarin for Road) and Xintiandi.

There is only one way to enjoy the concession and that is by walking. Get off the cab and take a walking tour of Fuxing Lu and Shoaxing Lu and enjoy the sights of classical buildings and tree lined roads with dozens of art galleries and old bookshops.

East of Shoaxing Lu is TAIKANG LU
In the back alley of Taikang lies a hive of local activities, duck through the worn-out brick shops and historic hutongs and mix in with the local families residing in neighboring alleys.

After soaking up with the sights and smells of the street life in Taikang a change of scenery is in order. A more modern, hip and stylish surrounding was next on our list – Xintiandi.

Still a part of the French Concession, Xintiandi is a quadrant area with restored shikumen’s (stoned-gate houses) turned into hip restaurants, cafes, bars and designer shops. It is also home to the world famous xialongbao’s of Din Tai Fung Restuarant.

A few blocks from Xintiandi is the highly commercial road of Huaihai, a shoppingera’s heaven.

Huaihai has everything you need, from local clothing to international signature brands, authentic Chinese cuisine and food markets, bakeshops and tobacco stores and cyber markets for all your electronic needs.

International brands can be found along the stretch of Huaihai Road

With the eternal building boom in China, the old Shanghai is fast disappearing under concrete and steel but with the survival of the charming back alleys in the former French concession, be sure to have a lovely stroll in the area and soak in a bit of the old Shanghainese life.

TIP: wear a really comfy pair of shoes because you are going to do a lot of walking and an eco friendly reusable shopping bag for all the goodies you’re sure to pick up.

written by KIM

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