Shanghai’s Former French Concession is a residential area once designated for the French. The former French Concession is popular with tourists and expatriates for its cafes, tree-lined avenues, and houses with colonial architecture. Strolling through the streets to get an inside view of modern Shanghai’s development through a historic French Concession is a must when visiting Shanghai.
In the summertime, it is very humid and hot in Shanghai. When the air temperature is above 35 °C, it could be more than 45 °C in the sun. Such hottest days can last for a month. Many modern shopping malls and indoor places are places to escape from the heat.
However, if you would rather spend time exploring Shanghai than stay in an air-conditioned room, the following tree-lined avenues are the ideal places for escaping the summer heat. They are famous for the beautiful scenery and historical background.
Compared to the famous shopping streets the area is less commercialized, whereas there is no lack of interesting shops and cafes which dominate the present.
- Sinan Road (思南路)
- Henshan Road (衡山路)
- Shaoxing Road (绍兴路)
- Julu Road (巨鹿路)
- Xinhua Road (新华路)
- Wukang Road (武康路)
- Fuxing Middle Road (复兴中路)
Sinan Road (思南路)
The original name is Rue Massenet, built in 1914. There are more than 20 European style houses along the streets. Most of the facades have ornate detailing, charming European-style doors, windows, and balconies. Uplevel cafes, bars, and boutique shops line up this street. It is one of the most beautiful streets in Shanghai.
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 century.
At present, mansions along Hengshan Road are now bars, nightclubs, and restaurants. It is one of Shanghai’s vibrant nightlife districts and particularly popular among expatriates.
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.
Along the road there is a community park. Its entrance is free. Local people use the park as their meeting point. The park is small but with many Chinese garden elements.
Julu Road (巨鹿路)
Built in 1907, Julu Road was Rue Ratard in the old time. Today it is a leisure and trendy street. Handcraft shops, restaurants, fashion shops, bookstores, etc., can all distract your attention from the heat and humid air.
It is worth a visit to the Villas at No.889. The English style houses were built by the former British Asiatic Petroleum Company. Now they are home to many restaurants offering gourmet food.
Xinhua Road (新华路)
Formerly called Avenue Amherst, built-in 1925, the street is home to a few heritage architectures. At the crossing of Panyu Road and Xinhua Road, one charming building was the former Columbia Riding School.
Buildings among several lanes have the name ‘Columbia Circle’ designed by Hungarian architect Ladislav Hudec (Hugyecz László).
Wukang Road (武康路)
Formerly known as Route Ferguson, built in 1907, the street was named after a young American missionary, John Calvin Ferguson. Rows of robust and dark green plane trees shelter the road. There are many Spanish and French Renaissance-style buildings.
It is worth to mention, the famous Normandie Apartments, which had many tragic stories in history, is also on Wukang Road.
The street was first named Avenue Paulun after a German doctor. Because of the first world war, the road 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 the Chinese to live. The famous site on the street is the Moller Villa.
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 motion. Rows of villas and houses are along Fuxing Road, one of the most beautiful streets in Shanghai.
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
- See where Shanghai’s White Russian refugees worshipped
- Explore the building in which legendary mobster Big-Eared Du stored his opium
Where to stay
A stroll through the beautiful and sheltered streets in Shanghai’s Former French Concession introduces to you both the historical and architectural interests of the area. The abundant plane trees and the old buildings with the 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 Shanghai and experience its vivid nightlife.
Kevin’s Old House
Kevin’s Old House is among popular eateries and within a 10-minute walk of Changshu Road (常熟路)Metro Station. It is a four-story French Concession villa built-in 1927. Its suites spread throughout the house, featuring wooden floorboards, traditional Chinese furniture, fridges, air condition, and international channels.
This B&B is a townhouse built in the 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 it. Quintet BnB is near the area’s clubs and pubs.
This historic mansion was the former residence of notorious gangsters. Some of its balcony rooms have views over the Russian Orthodox church. Mansion Hotel Shanghai is close to South Shaanxi Road (陕西南路) Metro Station, making it easy to travel around Shanghai. It is one of the historic hotels in Shanghai.