Walkabout in the Former French Concession
What’s the Former French Concession?
The Former French Concession in Shanghai was an area controlled by the French government from around 1849 to 1946. The French obtained the area from the Shanghai government which conceded certain territory for a French settlement. Shanghai was, and still is, an important port city and many foreign governments established themselves in various areas around the city. However, the French Concession remains the most iconic and popular among tourists and expats
The area is well known for the European style cafes, architecture, and tree-lined streets which makes for a great walking tour on nice days.
- Take metro line number 1 to Huangpi South Road Station
- Xintian Di and visit the First Communist Congress
- Early lunch at Wei Xiang Zhai (味香斋) on Yandang Lu.
- Walk through Fuxing Park
- Sun Yat-Sen Museum
- Tianzifang area
- Afternoon tea and rest at Qiao Bingshan Teashop
Xintiandi (新天地) area in Shanghai is best known for it’s redeveloped shikumen style houses and narrow alleys. However, these are all replicas reconstructed to look something like what shikumen is supposed to be. Near the center is the Site of the First National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party which is itself an important historical place to visit.
Just up the street (Xingye Rd) from the museum is a Shikumen open house museum. It’s worth a look to get the feel of how homes were like in the old Shanghai.
Many tourists visit Xintiandi to enjoy the nightlife, restaurants, bars, and shops. However, this part of Xintiandi has become very commercialized and busy.
Shikumen Museum Hours: Open daily 11am-11pm
CPC Museum Hours: 9:00-16:00
Lunch at Wei Xiang Zhai
Wei Xiang Zhai is a famous local noodle shop in Xintiandi area of Shanghai. The place is very small and always crowded. So be prepared to elbow your way to a table and slurp up some noodles in a hurry.
The procedure is to first know what you want before walking up to the counter to order. Good news is the menu is very small and the best two dishes, in my opinion, are sesame noodles and spicy beef noodles.
After ordering take your receipt and go stand next to a table that looks like they are near finishing. Then sit down, call over a server to clean the table and show them your order.
When the dishes arrive, enjoy some of the best Sesame noodles in town. But don’t linger or you’ll get yelled at. Yummy!
Sun Yat-Sen’s Home
The Former Residence of Sun Yat-Sen is a home in Shanghai adjacent to Fuxing Park where he lived from 1918 until his death. Today the home is a museum presenting his life and artifacts of the time.
Sun Yat-sen (1866-1925) was the first president and founding member of the Republic of China (ROC). Sun Yat-sen had a key role in bringing the Qing dynasty to an end and was appointed as the ROC Provisional President in 1912 that later morphed into the Peoples Republic of China. He later co-founded the Nationalist Party of China.
Sun Yat-sen was a unifying leader in the post-imperial era of China and he is to this day widely loved and revered by both sides of the political parties as the “Father of the Nation”.
Also, across the street nearby is the residence of Zhou Enlai the 1st Premier of the People’s Republic of China.
Address: 7 Xiangshan Road
Hours: open daily 9am-4pm
Tianzifang is a major tourist attraction with over 200 small businesses such as shops, bars, restaurant, craft stores, etc. The neighborhood is a rabbit warren of narrow alleyways representative of old shikumen style buildings. Have a look at my article which covers Tianzifang in greater detail.
Have a Relax
Just a short two blocks from the Tianzi Fang enclave is a nice little shop called Qiao Bing Shan Fang (敲冰山房) on 33 Shaoxing Lu, near Shaanxi Nan Lu. The tea shop is run by Miss Li who is quite nice and happy to offer you some tea to try. The tea shop stocks each of the main tea types such as Oolong, Pu’er, White tea, etc. They also have a good selection of handmade teaware.
After walking around Tianzi Fang, take a stroll to the tea shop, relax and enjoy some tea. The teas sold are all high quality and sourced by the owner through factory partnerships and regular visits to local farmers in the tea regions.