A part of Shanghai that I had wanted to visit was the former French Concession, it had been recommended to me as an area to see as there was a strong French look about it.(And I love the whole, west in the east look of a place) At the tourist information office, when I asked how to get there, (along with Yu Garden) the tour guide suggested The Big Red Bus and marked the area that I later found out was called Xintiandi as close to the French Concession. Technically that was true, but it's the very edge of the French Concession and not the main part that I was looking for! Regardless I was in for another pleasant surprise when I got off the bus at Xintiandi.
The bus commentary explained that the area had been saved from demolition and the old buildings redeveloped. The buildings are mid-19th century shikumen (stone gate) houses in narrow laneways. (Research again!)
Despite the fact that it was raining heavily as I wandered around (taking pictures with a camera and balancing an umbrella was quite a challenge!) I thought the whole area was lovely.
The entrance to Xintiandi from where The Big Red Bus drops you off.
Again surprised by the prominent signage in a heritage area (the Starbucks logo!) The area has many cafes and restaurants, I ended up having lunch in one of them called 'Element Fresh'. Despite its name it is Chinese! It's a chain of restaurants, I had eaten in one in Beijing, but they were founded in Shanghai, the one in Xintiandi was called 'vintage element fresh', perhaps the first one!? They serve a range of food, my favourite is the toasted grilled vegetable sandwich, and it was served with a bowl of pumpkin soup (at no extra cost!) so had a great lunch before venturing back into the rain.
Had it been a sunny day, these outdoor seating areas would have been lovely. It's possible to clearly see on this building the stone doorways that were unique in this area.
I liked this little laneway with the two balconies.
The Xintiandi area is divided into 2 parts, this road separates the older restored part with the new modern buildings that are part of Xintiandi as well.
Parallel with the pedestrian street is a road which has these lanes coming off it, each lane has different restaurants.
This building housed the First Congress of the Communist Party of China in 1921. It's now a museum, although it was closed for refurbishment when I was there. According to what I've read the building was in the French Concession, so there's my 'technically I walked in a small part of the French Concession' Not a very French part of it!
Beautiful old western style building, now a restaurant.
I've since read that Xintiandi is considered one of the first 'lifestyle centres' in China, there are apartments in the surrounding area. It's considered the most expensive place to live in China. For a tourist though, it was a nice place to stroll around in, have lunch or dinner or take a break and have a coffee.