Monday, July 30, 2012

Shanghai, how I love thee!

Warning: This is another post where I declare my love for Shanghai.  
Since I don’t live in Shanghai and I don’t have to fight the traffic and the challenges of living in one of the world’s largest cities, I can remain in the puppy-dog love stage with this great city for a long time.  It is just a fun place!
Before flying to a conference in Korea (blog post forthcoming) my parents came to China at the beginning of June as part of a business trip.  We spent two days in Shanghai with my parents.  This trip my main desire was to spend time in the former French Concession.  Let me digress a bit to explain that Shanghai used to be divided into “concessions” where different countries had home-country ruling in their part of Shanghai.  This means that the rules of Britain applied to the British concession (and not Chinese law). 
The ares out-lined in red is the
Former French Concession.
The French Concession was in place from 1849 until 1946 and dissolved because of changing politics. From what I’ve read, the concession had its own electrical system, judiciary, and police force.  Now, back to why I wanted to visit this concession. 
Some travel guides profess that the French Concession looks like Paris, but my mom, who has been to Paris, wasn’t so sure that was the case.  It does have many tree-lined streets, lots of shopping and great restaurants.  We started our exploration at the historic Catholic cathedral at the Western edge of the concession.  We were just in time to watch a Chinese bride and groom walk down the aisle!

The Bride & Groom, dressed in Western-style clothing,
 waiting to walk down the aisle.
I would pay $5 to know what she was thinking.

Another couple posing outside of the
cathedral.  Many couples take pictures
outside of churches, but don't actually
get married in the church.
Another break, this time for gelato!
Then we took our first Shanghai subway ride (with one failed attempt at getting through the turnstyle) to another part of the concession.  I didn’t really have specific places I wanted to see, which means my flexibility lead us wandering around the French Concession.  We did find a great gelato shop run by a woman from Milan, Italy and a few great antique shops with several art deco pieces that had been restored.  We will be going back there.
Taking a break along the way.

French & Chinese on the same archway.
Chinese door knockers.

I poked my head in here thinking we
might be getting close.  Nope, just lots of  laundry!

Entrance to Tianzafang.
Finally we reached the “it” spot, the quaintest shopping area of the French Concession.  We entered through an arch into Tianzifang.  This area is a restored residential area of the French Concession.  It is a series of intertwined alleyways with shops, cafes and art studios.  After we had walked most of the concession, our energy was waning and we didn’t spend nearly enough time poking through all the stores.  The adults had fun, the girls had given up expressing any interest in shopping after traipsing all over the concession!  (Although I think they would have stopped for more ice cream.)

Lots of tea to try.
So many shops to see.
A picture of "Obamao", get it?!

LBean working on her journal.  I think we have
a future blogger!
We ended the day at a great burger place I had discovered with some friends a few months earlier.  The Bistro Burger has one of the best burgers we’ve had in China and a bonus is the sitter potty!


  1. Hello! I stumbled across your blog when searching for things in Suzhou- so glad to see you are enjoying Suzhou! We have lived in SND for 1 year and are considering moving to SIP for our next year. one big factor for us is finding a preschool for our 2.5year old. Would you mind emailing me any details you can of the preschool your send your younger daughter to? Thank you kindly!

    1. Hello! I just sent you an email with the details, let me know and I will try again.

  2. Such an interesting mix... French and Chinese. Didn't know about these concessions. Your posts are always enlightening!! :)