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April 2015
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Shanghai in the 30s: from the Bund to the French Concession

Shanghai in the 30 © Ludovic Bischoff

To take a stroll along the Bund, the long boulevard that stretches out besides the Huangpu river, means retracing the story of Shanghai. Turn back time to the “good old days” of the concessions offered to those Western nations eager to do business with eternal China. Opened to the powers of the West in 1843, Shanghai, this modest fishing village that never quite knew the same magnificence as Beijing, would swiftly become a cosmopolitan city, home of flourishing capitalism. Europe’s great nations would all gain access to a piece of land on which they could build their embassies and banks. Along the Bund, you can still admire these beautiful Art Deco and neoclassical style buildings. Frozen in time, these structures are a testament to an opulence that continues to fascinate. In the 1930s, Shanghai was a city where every trade and every pleasure was offered to Westerners who, arriving in China, met with the Chinese that had been long shut off to them. This was particularly true of the French who, at the time, enjoyed a certain freedom! Today, getting lost in the backstreets of this elegant, calm district is an absolute delight. And to give yourself an idea of what these colonialists would have experienced in exotic Shanghai, take a trip to the Yu gardens, which were established over 400 years ago. Smaller today than they previously were, you can still admire the various buildings entrusted to mandarins and charming rocky mountains, which were stuck together with a simple rice-based glue. These organic sculptures are still standing centuries later. One of the many marvels of a civilisation founded upon rice…

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