Cite Bourgogne

Cité Bourgogne (Bùgāolǐ, 步高里) is a unique example of the shikumen style lane house dwelling constructed across the city during its early-twentieth-century heyday. Located in the former French Concession, one can stroll through the narrow lanes of this block-sized complex completed in 1930 and get a bit of a sense of yesterday’s Shanghai. A blend of European and Chinese architectural features, the shikumen (which translates as “stone gate”) neatly balanced the demands of density with those of privacy, creating tightly knit communities with shared common space that still allowed residents considerable separation.
Designed to accommodate 78 families, and currently occupied by some 450 households, Cité Bourgogne provides a glimpse of a way of life that is fast disappearing as old housing stock falls before the wrecking ball to make way for high-rise developments and glitzy malls. Located on Shaanxi Nan Lu (Shǎnxī Nán Lù, 陕西南路) just south of Yongjia Lu (Yǒngjiā Lù, 永嘉路), Cité Bourgogne makes for a quick stop on a casual walking tour of the French Concession that might include nearby Fuxing Park, the cafés and small galleries on Shaoxing Lu and hip Taikang Lu, as well as classic colonial-era villas along Fuxing Lu (Fùxīng Lù, 复兴路), Ruijin Lu (Ruìjīn Lù, 瑞金路) and Shimen Yi Lu (Shímén Yī Lù, 石门一路)—including historic sites like Sun Yatsen’s Residence, Zhou Enlai’s Residence and the site of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party—and the Sinan Mansions development.
If you’re interested in more information on the shikumen, the Shikumen Open House Museum in nearby Xintiandi is a half hour’s walk away.

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