Dapuqiao is a bustling area on the southern edge of the French Concession. This was one of the earliest areas in Shanghai to be developed, and is now home to a number of high-rise residential and commercial buildings. Tucked away amidst these skyscrapers is Tianzifang, one of the most popular creative districts in the city.
Once a residential area, developers have converted these traditional Shikumen houses into a wide array of trendy boutiques, classy café’s, and charming art studios alongside souvenir shops that may provide the occasional gem. As Alan Garcia, an expatriate from New York, puts it, “Tianzifang is one of the best places in the city for alfresco dining, and has some of my favorite boutiques and stores that you just can’t find anywhere else.”
The narrow lanes of Tianzifang rarely seem claustrophobic. Rather, the crowded alleyways tend to offer the area a quaint charm. However, the recent influx of tourists can be overwhelming during peak hours (usually weekend afternoons). According to Garcia, this area “can get a little too crowded and busy as it’s becoming more of a tourist destination. But seeing locals living in their old Shikumen houses alongside these chic shops and café’s is a can’t-miss experience.”
Shoppers looking to bolster their wardrobe can check out La Vie, the flagship store of internationally-renowned designer Jenny Ji. Those interested in the local creative scene can stop by the Shoubai Art Gallery, a sprawling 2-story exhibition space featuring Shanghainese art. Those looking to kick back and relax also have a wide selection of café’s and restaurants to choose from. Origin is one of the most popular organic restaurants in the city, offering a mouth-watering array of fresh-squeezed juices, salads and sandwiches. Casa 13 is a trendy Mediterranean restaurant occupying an old 3-story lanehouse. The rooftop terrace is ideal for romantic summer nights, while the tasteful interior can offer a cozy retreat in the colder months.
Tianzifang is on Taikang Road, right across the street from Dapu Bridge metro station (line 9). For those taking a taxi, the closest major intersection is Ruijin Second Road and Taikang Road. Luckily, the Dapuqiao area boasts a number of apartment complexes. In particular, Patina Court offers fully-serviced apartments for those who want to live a luxurious lifestyle within walking distance of Tianzifang. Stay tuned to Luxury Living in Shanghai if you want to learn more about Patina Court.