French Concession (Luwan), Shanghai
Concierge.com's insider take:
In the area around Huaihai Lu, a street known for its department stores, boutiques, antique shops, and cafés, lies the marvelous old French Concession. In 1854, this area was designated to the French, who opted out of a move to combine all the foreign settlements in the city. Many of the French Concession's Tudor-style mansions—complete with colorful flower boxes—still stand on the tree-lined streets off Yan'an Lu. Vestiges of the Japanese occupation (1937–1945) also remain, alongside the buildings of what used to be the Jewish and Russian quarters. Fuxing Park is a tree-lined green oasis in the French Concession that dates back to the early 1900s. Early in the morning, people stroke the air in the smooth patterns of tai chi. Later, women sing Chinese opera, old men gamble at tables beside the main pavilion, and couples waltz to piped dance music. Go here for a typical—and marvelous—slice of Chinese life.