I always try to write unbiased reviews… but this one will be a bit different since I have been involved in creating the book. “Promenades au coeur de l’ancienne concession Francaise” is the new version of an old guide about Shanghai’s French concession. As the original one, this book was made by “A pleines mains” an expat charity in Shanghai. Proceeds are used in various help projects in Shanghai and the surrounding cities. The original guide was published in 2002 and has become out of print since then. It has been transformed into a number of guided walks throughout the French Concession. Each walk is about one hour and can be easily fit into a busy afternoon shopping or as a short break in a business trip. Walks are spread the old French Concession and the adjacent Xu Jia Hui area. One of them passes by the entrance of the lane where I live. Fortunately, my house is not included… which will avoid disturbing the quietness of my little private Shanghai.
The book is both in French and English, ensuring that the information collected within the important French community in the city is spread out to every lover of the old Shanghai. The original text was written in 2001 and the original author interviewed a few remaining Chinese survivors of the Concession time. This adds anecdotes and real stories to the book, making it a lively read. Having been interested in the topic for a few years, I still managed to learn quite a few things from it.
I did not design the walks, but I contributed is by landing some of my own collection of old Shanghai postcards and documents to be used as illustration. I am quite proud of having been part of it as the result is really good, but it’s for you to judge. If you are looking for a practical book about old Shanghai, it’s a good point to start.