Tianzifang is a tourist shopping and cafe area in Shanghai in the Old French Quarter. Unlike the better known Xintiandi area nearby, the area retains an “organic and original” feel because the area hasn’t been markedly reconstructed in recent years. Instead you’ll see buildings, alleys and streets of the old French Quarter with later Chinese additions piled on.
In an effort to stave off redevelopment, in the middle of the last decade, artists, business owners, and residents in the area banded together and preserved the original architecture. Though it is still a Chinese residential area, it has become famous as a “rabbit warren” of arts and crafts shops,and less-expensive less-expensive restaurants, bars, and cafes. Thousands of Chinese still live in the apartments above the shops.
For many tourists and expats in Shanghai it is a favorite place to go. Prices are high compared to other places in Shanghai since it has become a tourist attraction, but they find the Chinese residential atmosphere and the old-style buildings, narrow alleys, and less touristy atmosphere fascinating.
It is an artsy area with hundreds of bars, cafes, crafts shops, design studios, art galleries and boutiques. You might find crowds of Chinese young people and foreign expats and tourists.
Art: Talented craftsmen, designers, and artists live and work there, and sell their art. The artist Cheng Yifei’s studios are on Lane 210. Other well known Chinese and foreign artists have set up studios on the 40 or so other lanes.
Architecture: You’ll see Chinese-style Shikumen (stone gate) buildings along with French colonial buildings. You’ll also find converted Chinese factory buildings from later times.
Food: You can wander around the lanes and enjoy a great variety of local food and various international foods in foreign<-owned restaurants. See our Shanghai food page for suggestions on Shanghai’s special dishes.
Xintiandi: Is a better-known and classier French-Quarter redevelopment for shopping, gourmet restaurants, and luxury stores. It is a few minutes northeast by taxi.
Location: Lane 210, Taikang Road, Luwan District, Shanghai (for taxi: 上海市上海卢湾区泰康路田子坊, 210弄)
Hours: Most shops and restaurants close around 10 pm, but some bars close later.
Subway: It is about a half kilometer (8<-minute walk) north of Dapuqiao Station. Take subway Line 9 to the station and take Exit 1.
Buses: 17, 24, 304, or 864 to Middle Jianguo Road or Ruijin 2nd Road Station.
If you are interested in this attraction, we at China Highlights can tailor-make a Shanghai tour including Tianzifang for you.