The French Concession evokes images of colonial buildings, faded grandeur and avenues lined with plane trees…but the reality is a little more prosaic. Still, this is certainly the best enclave for eating, drinking and shopping on a more human scale.

Shops we quite liked included: Mayumi Sato for quirky girl cashmere sweaters and Japanese tailored lovelies, the eco-aware Urban Tribe – their sweet pleated scarves and interesting ceramics make for reasonably priced souvenirs/gifts;  and the rather more upmarket Initial Fashion for their interesting, artsy collection. For a custom cobbler, locals recommend Yanye Handmade Shoes as the best place for hand-made shoes in Shanghai, but note that an order takes 2-4 weeks to complete (1363 Fuxing Zhong Lu, by Baoqing Lu 复兴中路1363号,近宝庆路 Tel: 131 6270 5506).

Reading materials: you’ll find foreign language books at the rather ordinary Garden Books but we suggest 1984 for coffee, overall underground ambiance and lazing cats (the black gate is always closed, so don’t panic, you will be let in).

Coffee stop: Step into Aroom (15, Lane 120, Taian Lu nr Huashan Lu, Xuhui) a secret hide-away where you can have coffee and sort through cute vintage items and furnishings.

Mayumi Sato
no.169 Anfu Rd, nr Wulumuqi Rd
French Concession
Shanghai 200031

Open daily from noon to 8pm