The French concession (上海法租界) is a premier residential and retail area in Shanghai. It’s a quaint section that’s serene, calm and feels like it’s outside of China. Located in the Xuhui district it consists of quite a few streets like Wukang Lu, Fuxing Lu, Tai’an Lu, Dongping Lu, Julu Lu, Taojiang Lu, Wulumuqi Lu, Yongfu Lu, Xinle Lu and Changle Lu. By the way, some of the homes are not so glam after all.
The trees on the side of the streets line the area with leafy canopies. And so even if there’s sun, it’s mostly shaded.
There are also many nice cafes and local retail shops around. One might find some nice items along the way to eat or buy. Like Tianzifang and Ferguson Lane (wukang road) which I really love.
There were also some homes of authors in this area as part of the cultural relic preservation.
We walked past la creperie and the smell of freshly made crepes drew us towards it. We ordered a cinnamon/ caramel apple crepe to go. It was actually quite disappointing. The staff appeared to not know how to make crepes?! They were speaking in mandarin on how to prepare a takeaway crepe…. Creperies in UK, Japan, Australia, etc all offer crepes to go just about anywhere and they all taste so good so I was expecting something delicious but the 3 kitchen staff did not know what to do. What sounded yummy in the menu turned out to be flour and apple slices. Literally, sliced plain apple which did not even taste fresh (no natural sweetness) and the plain crepe, carelessly smeared with butter on one side after being folded… I think anyone can imagine the taste or rather, no taste. That’s not the only drawback. That crepe cost me 48 RMB which was almost USD$8!!! I ended up throwing it away as it just the worst crepe I’ve had.
Fortunately lunch was a saving grace. We headed to Xi Family garden restaurant (席家花园酒家) which was previously the home of a wealthy man transformed into a restaurant on 1 Dongping road.
I will attempt to translate the story but will include a disclaimer that the translation may not be 100% accurate – During the Qing dynasty, in Suzhou, there was a wealthy family dealing with silk. They built a manor by the lake called the Xi Family Garden which is currently preserved and visitors are welcomed. Subsequently, the descendants came to Shanghai to trade. They dealt mostly in the metal commodities and there were 2 exceptional family members who were most successful. The 2 of them became bankers and this restaurant used to be the home of one of them (built in 1913). After the cultural revolution (it says liberation but I’m guessing it meant cultural revolution), the building was confiscated by the government and became the office for the principal of the Shanghai music academy. In 1998 it was transformed into a restaurant. This was then the main branch of the Xi family restaurant.
The decor of the restaurant was interesting, like an influence of east and west. The restaurant was not air conditioned perhaps it’s already autumn. The menu was pretty extensive and a few pages are included in this post.
Between the 2 of us, we ordered 3 dishes which were too much and had to doggy bag most of them.
We had Vietnamese beef which was black pepper beef. Very succulent and tasty.
Nex we had the skin of soybean milk stuffed with edible herbs. This was very delicious though quite light and healthy.
Then there was the fried vermicelli in stone bowl. This was so flavorful, came with some seafood and bean sprouts. Very nice.
At the last stop in French concession, we saw this huge tree right inside a hotpot restaurant.
Hope you enjoyed the photos in this post. If you are visiting Shanghai, do drop by the French concession for a leisurely stroll and explore the area! I found it really interesting.