Guillaume Rostand is Marketing Director here at Splendia. Currently based in Barcelona, Guillaume has spent a number of years living and working in Shanghai. There is no need to feel lost in translation as Guillaume gives us some great recommendations on making the most out of a trip to this incredible city.
Noisy. Crowded. Exciting.
Where is your favourite place in the city?
My favourite place is Xiangyang Lu, in the heart of the French Concession. Many expats live in this area as it is a privileged place. The streets are lined with trees and old colonial mansions have become fashionable restaurants. Xiangyang Lu is always pleasant and surprising, with ultra modern shopping malls and luxury hotels sitting beside noodle bars where soups are RMB 8 (1€) I like to think of Xiangyang Lu as a world of oriental romance.
Shanghai has a rich collection of buildings and skyscrapers. Which is your favourite structure and why?
There are two places where you should go to view the skyline – People’s Square and Pudong. People’s Square was a racecourse in the days when Shanghai was divided into sections held by the West. There are some older buildings that were, until the mid-90s, the highest in the city. In Pudong, the Jin Mao Tower is a must see – a symbol of Westernisation – the tower is meant to be the meeting of the Empire State Building and a traditional pagoda. Next to it is the Shanghai World Financial Center which was the tallest building in the world until the erection of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. If you pass under the building on a foggy night it feels like you’re crossing Gotham City.
Tourists visiting China quite often head to the capital of Beijing instead of Shanghai. Why should visitors not miss the chance to discover Shanghai?
Shanghai is an amazing city where modernity and innovation are taken to the extreme. For instance, four motorways run above the city and the buildings are erected around the city in an anarchic way. Although you sometimes feel as though you’re living in the future, under the huge skyscrapers, an extraordinary colony exists. Shanghai represents achievement – as seen in the lights of independent shops that still shine brightly and its status as the economic capital.
Describe a typical weekend in the city.
In Shanghai, the majority of people work long hours during the week, so at the weekend, if they don’t travel to Hong Kong, Xiamen or another city by the sea, people enjoy their time resting, playing sport or taking part in other leisure activities.
Shanghai is a great city to make new friends and weekends are the perfect time to meet for breakfast or brunch. On Saturday morning, go to L’Azul at the URBN Hotel or The Peninsula Shanghai. On Saturday afternoons, I would go shopping at the textile market, where you can have any articles of clothing made. You can then spend the afternoon shopping on Nanjing Road, playing sport or heading to one of the many gyms in the city.
On Sundays, relax at Fuxing Park amid the dancers, kite-flyers and card players. Again, enjoy brunch at Element Fresh on Nanjing Road, where exquisite fruit juices will bring you back to life after a crazy Saturday night in Shanghai! Sunday evenings are a pleasant time to wander around the market of the Old City, where exhilarating smells await. Walk up to the Bund and then end the day watching a DVD that you have bought (in a more or less legal way!)
What do you miss most about living in Shanghai?
What I miss most are the smiling people. Taking a taxi, buying a bottle of water, going to the cobbler, are all opportunities to speak to Chinese people without understanding them – but they always answer you with amazing smiles. You don’t understand them, they don’t understand you, and at the end everyone is laughing. These moments are magic and I will never forget them – this summarises a foreigner’s life in Shanghai.