Shanghai (1)

Tuesday 26/09

We start with homeschooling this morning. It’s always easier when we are in an apartment.

We go for lunch to the upscale IAPM mall, across the road. The mall is quite impressive with its spectacular interior design (and its mix of high-end designers and younger casual brands + an Apple store). We eat very good pizza and salads.

I like our district. The contrast is somehow amazing: the distinct character of the streets of the French Concession combined with modern malls and lilongs (equivalent to the hutongs of Beijing). We live in such a lilong, where there are also small shops, mainly nails salons and hairdressers.

The great news for Ludivine is that she has a friend (Katie, a previous schoolmate from Jeddah) living in Shanghai. It will be nice for her to spend time with someone who is her age, after more than 2 months without friend. Isabelle and I go with her to her appointment, in a metro station. Shanghai is apparently a very safe city and we leave them together for the rest of the afternoon.

We then go to a nearby ‘Carrefour’ supermarket, where we stay 1h30… It’s a big one (it was the first in China). We take a taxi back to the apartment (we bought much stuff).

We have diner at home. It’s’ nice to eat cheese and ‘charcuterie’ after nearly 2 months.

We prepare our visits in Shanghai, with our 4 guidebooks. There are many things to see.

As the young Chinese say: “To see 1000 years of history, you have to go to Beijing but to know the current China, you have to come in Shanghai”.

The internet connection is unfortunately not good.


Wednesday 27/09

Typical morning when we are in an apartment, in a city: healthy breakfast (fruit and cereals) and homeschooling.

We continue the preparation of visits. We could see in Beijing that it was quite useful to organize the different sites we want to visit into districts, in order to be more efficient.

Lunch: good baguette from the nice bakery nearby (in the basement of the shopping mall across the road).

Ludivine spends the afternoon with Katie. They like to discover places (such as cafes) where they can take pictures for Instagram.

We leave the apartment at 4pm. We do a walk in the French Concession.

A few words about the history of Shanghai: Until 1842, Shanghai was a minor Chinese river port. In that year, the Chinese government capitulated to western demands for trade concessions resulting in a number of ports along China’s eastern seaboard, including Shanghai, becoming essentially European outposts. Their key feature was that of extra-territoriality – foreign residents were answerable only to the laws of their own country. Thus the Americans, British, and French had their own “concessions” (exclusive areas within the city with their own police forces and judiciary), a situation that attracted not only entrepreneurs ,but refugees, criminals, and revolutionaries. Shanghai became a byword for glamour and vice. It all came to an end in the 1940s when foreigners gave up their rights in the face of growing Chinese opposition.

We walk in the French Concession, where our Airbnb is located. The redevelopment is constantly removing the old villas and apartment buildings that formerly made this area of Shanghai resemble a typical French provincial town, but there remains much to see and this is a very walkable part of town. There are also small parks, always with ‘fitness’ equipment and small tables to play. Kids enjoy them.

We go through Tianzifang, a network of design studios, cafes, bars and boutiques (with souvenir stalls as well).

For diner, we go to the other ‘trendy’ places of the French Concession: Xintiandi. Xintiandi is an upscale entertainment and shopping complex modelled on traditional alleyway homes. The heart of the complex is pedestrian, consisting of largely rebuilt traditional shikumen houses, brought up-to-date with a stylish modern spin. It reminds us of some new districts in Dubai; it has no much charm. We eat in a nice restaurant (‘Element Fresh’), where we have a nice diner (sharing different meals, including a good steak). Nice Italian ice cream for dessert.


Thursday 28/09

No homeschooling this morning. We want to arrive early at the Shanghai Science & Technology Museum, in Pudong. We go by metro. The museum is full of schoolchildren, who are very noisy. The museum is interesting, with a lot of hands-on experiences for the kids. The 2 shows (movies) we watch are not great though.

After a quick basic lunch (dumplings, sweet and sour pork, and rice), we go to the Fake market, in the AP Plaza located in the underground metro station of the museum. As its name indicates, we can find anything in this market (clothes, bags, shoes, electronics, watches…) but ‘fake’. We can find all the famous brands (from Calvin Klein, to Moncler, to Fjallraven). Items look very nice but the quality is questionable. We buy a backpack for Jules and a pair of Stan Smith for Ludivine. Anecdotally, we even find a fake ‘Paul’ bakery, with exactly the same look and the same products (at least the outside…), even the same labels; they just change the name of course.

Ludivine goes to Katie for a sleepover. She’s so happy to spend time with her friend. It’s nice to see that she’s independent, taking the metro by herself. It makes her proud also.

We go back to the apartment, where we enjoy a nice ‘apéritif’, while watching the first part of the ‘Last Emperor’ movie (by Bertolucci), which was filmed inside the Forbidden City. We eat at the apartment.


Friday 29/09

We have an unusual visit this morning.

We go to the Zotter Chocolate Factory. This Austrian chocolatier produces organic, fairtrade chocolate in many creative flavours (cheese chocolate, anyone?). The huge atelier, housed in a heritage cotton storage warehouse, is in Hongkou district. The visit is a nice journey through the ‘bean to bar’ production processes. Many tempting tasting stations of the fine-quality chocolate en route are part of the experience; maybe too many for our liver… (we don’t know who ate the largest number of spoons…). It’s interesting to notice that we all have different tastes.

Afterwards, we wander a bit in the outlet village, trying to find jeans for Florence.

Around 4pm, we go and eat dumplings at Yang’s Fry Dumplings, near People’s Square. It’s the city’s most famous place for fried shengjian dumplings, which are filled with pork (or shrimps) and rich broth, sprinkled with sesame seeds, and fried in large shallow pans till their bottoms are toasty golden (we can watch the production). They are very popular; there is a queue on the street. There are excellent; we enjoy them very much (but we all burnt ourselves with the juice…).

We go back home and enjoy a quiet evening.

PS: I nearly forget an important event today: I eventually shaved, for the first time of the trip. It was about time…


Saturday 30/09

It’s weekend today! Children are happy to have a chillax day.

I go and buy some chocolate breads and croissants for breakfast.

Kids are on their screens. We are also on our laptops. I need to catch up with a lot of emails and prepare our trip to Japan (the itinerary is still to be finalized and a few hotels need to be booked accordingly).

We eat a nice salad at the apartment.

Kids stop their screen time (probably 10 hours today…) only to play a board game with me.

We eat pasta at home. It’s the first time we eat the 3 meals at the same place since the beginning of the trip. The weekend day was well chosen since it has rained nearly the whole day…

We watch the first part of ‘Anastasia’ (Disney) movie.


2 Replies to “Shanghai (1)

  1. “There are also small parks, always with ‘fitness’ equipment and small tables to play.”

    Ça me fait très fort penser aux parcs de Téhéran.

  2. Donne-nous vite plus de nouvelles. Il y a 10 jours de décalage. .. Je ne me sens pas en phase avec vous. 😕

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