FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Shanghai: French Twist

Jan 1, 2011
2011 / January 2011

It’s easy to see why the French Concession has become the hub of Shanghai’s finest food and entertainment. The faded grandeur of the leafy streets — chock full of hip boutiques, restaurants and bars — makes it one of the most charming areas in the city to spend a day.

Although most of the French Concession’s residents during colonial times were wealthy Russians or Chinese, this settlement was governed by French laws and French culture. Explore some of the trendiest boutiques the “Paris of the East” has to offer with a walk along Maoming Road, stopping at the silk boutique Jin Zhi Yu Ye (tel 86 21 6431 4398) and Shanghai-based T-shirt chain Shirtflag (50 Moganshan Road, tel 86 21 6298 6483).

Take a break for a mid-morning Americano at 1931 (tel 86 21 6472 5264), a cozy café on Maoming Road that harks back to the 1930s in elegant Art Deco style, with dark wood paneling, black-and-white photographs of old Shanghai and gramophone music.

For lunch, duck into Wuyue Renjia (10 Lane 706, tel 86 21 5306 5410), a rustic noodle restaurant hidden in an alley off Huaihai Road. A handful of wooden tables seat neighborhood residents for Suzhou-style noodles, served fried or in a soup, with tender hunks of meat or sautéed vegetables on the side.

Catch a glimpse of Shanghai’s republican past with a visit to the Former Residence of Sun Yat-sen (7 Xianshan Road, tel 86 21 6437 2954), founder of the Chinese republic in 1912 and the country’s first president. The two-story villa is still furnished in the 1920s style in which Dr. Sun’s wife, the beloved Soong Ching-ling, entertained personalities including Ho Chi Minh, George Bernard Shaw and writer Lu Xun.

Step into the next chapter of Chinese history at the Site of the First National Congress of the Communist Party of China (374 Huangpi Road, tel 86 21 5383 2171), ironically now set within the popular shopping complex Xintiandi. Here the CCP was born in 1921 during a closeted meeting of 12 Chinese revolutionaries, including Mao Tse-tung.

While at Xintiandi, be sure to make dinner reservations at T8 (tel 86 21 6355 8999), a restaurant that regularly tops Shanghai’s (and the world’s) fine-dining lists. Settle into a private nook at this converted 19th-century shikumen home for Asian-European fusion dishes: Wagyu beef with edamame, chanterelles and black garlic or pan-roasted sea bass with black risotto, squid and sea grass.

Round out your day with a cocktail at The Mansion, a hotel and bar set within a 1930s estate (82 Xinle Road, tel 86 21 5403 9888). The rooftop patio is an enchanting spot to watch the sun set over the tree-lined streets and — as in the rest of the French Concession — feel as though you’ve stepped through a portal into old Shanghai.

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FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

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