Thursday, 7 April 2011

The Fabulous French Concession

I'm pretty lucky that my parents know all the best places to eat/shop in Shanghai and always take me to the most amazing places.  Their little black book is filled with more relevant addresses than any guidebook has to offer.  I have not been to Shanghai in 3 years and it is incredible how much the city has changed.  Shanghai is such a beautiful city with European influences that date back to the pre Mao days.  Modern Shanghai still has such an European feel to it because so many companies and developers from France, Germany, and the Netherlands got in there early and are making a huge impact on what the city is becoming.  It is crazy the speed in which highrises and skyscrapers are being put up but what I really love is the redevelopment of the traditional residential areas.  I can't even imagine how difficult it is to acquire a large property in downtown Shanghai.  I really hope that more of these developments that keep the old Shanghai feel are created and that traditional houses and buildings don't get torn down to make way for more highrises.  Many many families live in one older building that is usually given to them by the government.  The government needs to provide all  of these families with new living arrangements (normally a brand new apartment) in order to take back the property and sell to investors.  So the amount of work and negotiations involved to acquire a piece of property with old buildings on it is incredible.  

One of these new developments of 1920's colonial mansions in the French Concession is the Sinan Mansions.  Many of these traditional mansions have been renovated and the development is mixed with very modern glass buildings and some new European inspired ones.  Sinan Mansions is filled with very trendy shops, cafes, bars and restaurants and I could easily spend the day hoping from one cafe to the next.  Of course there is also a California Pizza Kitchen, Costa Coffee, and a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf in the complex!  Not the most exciting chains but at least they are guaranteed to be child friendly.

We had a mouth watering lunch at the gorgeous Aux Jardins Massenet.  Aux Jardins in located in one of the actual French colonial mansion and the decor is absolutely stunning.  It feels like you are dining at a very wealthy friends house instead of a restaurant.  The menu is filled with traditional French food which is presented in a very modern and artistic manner.  The chef kindly made the little monster a cheese crepe served with a scoop of ice cream.  At the end of the meal we were presented with a plate of treats including the most delicious marshmallows I've ever tasted and a super yummy chocolate souffle!  Delicious Aux Jardins is but baby friendly it is not (but the staff are really sweet).  There are 2 small flights of stairs into the restaurant, no high chairs (luckily I carried one around with me everywhere we went), and again no baby change.  But it was so worth the meal!

Aux Jardins Massenet
57 Sinan Road
+86 21 3401 9998


  1. Wow. I would have never pictured any area of Shanghai to look like this! Just beautiful & so inviting! It looks like you're quite the traveler as well! Thanks so much for stopping by my page today - I'm following now! -diane

  2. Love the photos! Thanks for sharing!