Walking: French Concession Stroll

  • Start Xintiandi metro station
  • End Okura Garden Hotel Shanghai
  • Length 2.5km; 75 minutes

Begin walking west on Middle Fuxing Rd (formerly rue Lafayette), first passing the red-brick Italianate All Saint’s Church (1925), then the Park Apartments (1926) and smaller private villas fronted by palm trees, which date to the same era. On the northern side of Middle Fuxing Rd at No 512 is the Former Residence of Liu Haisu (1896–1994), a 20th-century artist who revolutionised traditional Chinese art by introducing Western painting styles. Opposite, at the corner with South Chongqing Rd, is the Dubail Apartment Building (1931), the one-time home of US journalist and communist sympathiser Agnes Smedley (1892–1950).

Turn into Sinan Mansions, a complex of luxurious 1920s private villas built south of French Park (now Fùxīng Park) and renovated as an upscale lifestyle destination; today it houses numerous cafes and restaurants (and ultraexclusive short-term residences to the south). Exit on Sinan Rd (route Massenet) and walk north to Sun Yatsen’s Former Residence, where the father of modern China lived from 1918 to 1924. On Gaolan Rd (route Cohen) is the Russian Orthodox St Nicholas Church, built in 1934 in dedication to the murdered tsar of Russia.

From Gaolan Rd, turn right into Rujin No 2 Rd, then left on to Nanchang Road (rue Vallon), a shopping strip where you’ll find boutiques selling jewellery, shoes, antiques and clothing. Turn right onto South Maoming Road (route Cardinal Mercier), another shopping hot spot that specialises in qípáo (figure-hugging Chinese dresses) and other Chinese-style clothes. Across busy Huaihai Rd stands the landmark art deco Cathay Theatre (1932) beyond which, along South Maoming Rd, is the Okura Garden Hotel Shanghai, originally constructed as the French Club (Cercle Sportif Français) in 1926. Take the eastern entrance and the stairs to columns capped with stunning deco nude reliefs, concealed during the Cultural Revolution.