The Former French Concession is certainly the most romantic place to walk the streets in Shanghai. The beautiful shady Plane Trees create an umbrella of calm and protection, and keep the vintage style of the neighbourhood assured. Now that it’s wintertime, most leaves have fallen or are still orange and brown, so these streetscapes have changed again.
There are long blocks you can walk down, under these trees, and you don’t pass a single person. Some cars or scooters don’t even drive along. I push my child’s pram and say, “There’s more people in this city than in the whole of Australia, right now, but … where are they?”
It’s very flat so walking and riding is a breeze, and while the FFC is a lovely large neighbourhood or district, there are many other areas that maintain the Plane Trees so whilst the buildings change and become more modern and towering… there’s still a lovely outlook in most streets in Shanghai.
The area of The Bund (near the river) and the newer financial district — Century Park and Pudong — are different scapes again. The futurist buildings. The wider streets. The strong sense of normal. But not the western version of normal.
Shanghai is very contrasting, though, and has all the classic contradictions that make it hard to find the patterns in our new city. The old and the new. The hustle bustle and the calm of traffic. The rich and the poor. The shiny and the rustic. Everything opposite like ying and yang, and together in the one place.