Escape Summer Heat in Shanghai’s Former French Concession

Shanghai’s Former French Concession is a residential area once designated for the French.  The former French Concession is popular with tourists and expats for its cafes, tree-lined avenues, and houses with colonial architecture. Strolling through the streets in the area to get an inside view of the development of modern Shanghai through a historic French Concession is a must when visiting Shanghai.

In summer time, it is very humid and hot in Shanghai.  When the air temperature is between 30 to 35 degree, it could be more than 40 degree in the sun shine area. Such hottest days can last to a month. Many modern shopping malls and indoor places can certainly be a choice to escape from the heat.

However, if you would rather encourage yourself to go outside and spend time in exploring Shanghai than to stay in an air-conditioned room, the following 8 tree-lined avenues are the ideal places for escaping the summer heat. They are famous for the  beautiful scenery and history background.

These streets are less visited by mass domestic tourists so there is no hustle and bustle during the day. Compared to the famous shopping streets the area is also less commercialized, whereas there is no lack of interesting shops and cafes which dominate the presence.

Recommended tours

If you have limited time planed for Shanghai, you can book a Shanghai French Concession 2-Hour Walking tour.  Some of the highlights of the tour are:

  • See the Cathay Theatre and learn about China’s golden film era
  • Visit the stunning Cercle Sportif Francais, which once served as a private palace for Mao Zedong
  • Visit Jinjiang Hotel, where the legendary feminist icon Dong Zhujun once presided
  • Weave your way through Li Long back-streets and learn about the Opium Wars and Taiping Rebellion
  • Visit a 1920s hospital and discover the terrible mistake they made when treating tuberculosis
  • See where Shanghai’s White Russian refugees worshipped
  • Explore the building in which legendary mobster Big Eared Du stored his opium

Sinan Road (思南路)

The original name is Rue Massenet, built in 1914. There are more than 20 European style of houses along the streets. Most of the facades have ornate detailing, charming European-style doors, windows and balconies. Up level cafes, bars and boutique shops can be found on this street. It is one of the most beautiful streets in Shanghai.

Sinan Road in Shanghai's Formaer French Concession
Sinan Road in Shanghai’s Formaer French Concession (Source Credit)

Henshan Road (衡山路)

Formerly Avenue Pétain constructed in 1922, is a street in Shanghai’s former French Concession. It connects with the Catholic Church in Xujiahui. The tree-lined boulevard was the centre of Shanghai’s premier residential district during the 20th centuries. At present, mansions along Hengshan Road have been converted into bars, night clubs and restaurants. It is one of Shanghai’s vibrant nightlife districts and popular particularly among expatriates.

Hengshan Road in Shanghai's Former French Concession
Hengshan Road in Shanghai’s Former French Concession (Source Credit)

Shaoxing road (绍兴路)

Formerly known as Route Victor Emmanuel, this lovely 420-meter-long road is home to several publishing houses including the Shanghai Literature & Art Publishing Group. It also has many European-style cafes. It is a very typical Shanghai street.

Shaoxing Road in Shanghai’s Former French Concession
Shaoxing Road in Shanghai’s Former French Concession

Julu Road (巨鹿路)

It is used to be called Rue Ratard, the street was built in 1907. Today it is a leisure and trendy street.  Hand craft shops, restaurants, fashion shops and bookstores etc. can all distract your attention from the heat and humid air.

it is worth for a visit to the Villas at No.889. The English style houses were built by former British Asiatic Petroleum Company. Now they are home to many restaurants offering gourmet food.

Julu Road in Shanghai's Former French Concession
Julu Road in Shanghai’s Former French Concession (Source Credit)

Xinhua Road (新华路)

Formerly called Avenue Amherest, was built in 1925.The street is also dotted with a few sites of heritage architecture. One charming building is at the crossing of Panyu Road and Xinhua Road, which was the former Columbia Riding School.

Buildings among several lanes are having the name “Columbia Circle” and were designed by Hungarian architect Ladislav Hudec (Hugyecz László).

Xinhua Road in Shanghai's Former French Concession
Xinhua Road in Shanghai’s Former French Concession (Source credit)

Wukang Road (武康路)

Formerly known as Route Ferguson, was built in 1907.  It was name after a young American missionary John Calvin Ferguson. Rows of robust and dark green plane trees shelter the street. There are many Spanish and French Renaissance style buildings.

Wukang Road in Shanghai's Former French Concession
Wukang Road in Shanghai’s Former French Concession (Source Credit)


The street was first named as Avenue Paulun after a German doctor. Because of the first world war  the street was renamed by the Belgium King as Avenue du Roi Albert.

This street used to be the main road in Shanghai’s former French Concession, passing from the south to the north.  It was quickly built for Chinese to live.  The famous site on the street is the Moller Villa.

Moller Villa on Shaanxi South Road in Shanghai's Former French Concession
Moller Villa on Shaanxi South Road in Shanghai’s Former French Concession (Source Credit)

Fuxing middle road (复兴中路)

Formerly named as Route Gustave de Boissezon, is only dedicated for residential purpose. Tall plane trees shelter the street and people passing by are all in slow tempo. Rows of villas and lane houses make this section of Fuxing Road one of the most beautiful streets in Shanghai.

Fuxing West Road in Shanghai's Former French Concession
Fuxing West Road in Shanghai’s Former French Concession

Where to stay

A leisurely stroll though the beautiful and sheltered streets in Shanghai’s Former French Concession introduce to you both historical and architectural interests of the area. The abundant plane trees and the old buildings with architecture of varying styles and periods distract your attention from the heat. Stay a night in one of the old villas in Shanghai’s Former French Concession is also a unique way to explore the area as well as the night scene.

Kevin’s Old House

Kevin’s Old House is set among a variety of popular eateries and is within a 10-minute walk of Changshu Road (常熟路)Metro Station. It is a four-storey French Concession villa built in 1927 and has a friendly English-speaking owner. There are six spacious suites spread throughout the house, featuring wooden floorboards, traditional Chinese furniture, as well as fridges, air condition and international channels.

Quintet BnB

This B&B has five double rooms in a townhouse built in 1930s.  Some rooms are not so spacious but decorated with luxury style. It provides a comfortable atmosphere with some classic elements such as the wood-stripped floorboards. Besides, the loft room has a private rooftop terrace attached to. Quintet BnB is near the area’s popular clubs and pubs, and Paramount is a 20-minute stroll away.

Mansion Hotel

This historic mansion was the former residence of notorious gangsters. It’s features with antiques, dark and waxed wood and high ceilings. Some balcony rooms have views over the Russian Orthodox church. There are also honeymoon suites available. Mansion Hotel Shanghai is close to South Shaanxi Road (陕西南路) Metro Station, making it easy to travel around Shanghai. The hotel is also near the area’s well-known clubs and pubs.

The three hotels are all available on the following platforms:


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