The Famous Huaihai Road or Huaihai Lu (Chinese: 淮海路; pinyin: Huáihǎi Lù; Shanghainese: Wahae Lu) is one of the two major shopping streets in Shanghai, China; the other is Nanjing Road. It is also known as the 'Avenue des Champs Elysées' in Shanghai. Compared to the more touristy Nanjing Road, Huaihai Road is more upscale, and is the preferred destination of local residents. Huaihai Road comprises three sections, the main section being Middle Huaihai Road in the former French Concession of Shanghai. Middle Huaihai Road is also well known by its former French name Avenue Joffre (Chinese: 霞飞路)
Today's the three sections of Huai Hai Road, were formerly three distinct streets. West Huaihai Road, formerly called Jordan Road, is 1,510 meters (4,950 ft) long and forms part of the boundary between Changning District and Xuhui District. East Huaihai Road, formerly Ningbo Road, is 373 meters (1,224 ft) long and was the boundary road between Huangpu and Nanshi districts before the two districts merged. Middle Huaihai Road, the main section, is 5,500 meters (18,000 ft) long. Most of this section lies in the former Luwan District (which was also merged into Huangpu in 2010), and extends west into Xuhui and Changning districts.
Intersection of Avenue Joffre with Rue Cardinal Mercier in the 1930s, with Cathay Theatre on the left.
Middle Huaihai Road was built in 1901 as Rue Sikiang (Chinese: 西江路). Five years later it was renamed Route Paul Brunat (Chinese: 宝昌路). It was renamed again in 1915 to Avenue Joffre to honor the French general Joseph Joffre, who visited Shanghai and attended an official renaming ceremony in 1922. In the 1920s Avenue Joffre became an enclave of a large community of Russians fleeing the Communist revolution in their homeland.
The 5.5-kilometer (3.4 mi) long Middle Huaihai Road has a large number of shops lining its route, from small boutiques to major department stores and shopping malls, as well as hotels and restaurants. Major buildings include Lippo Plaza, Shui On Plaza, Central Plaza, Shanghai Square, Shanghai Times Square, Hong Kong Plaza, and K11, most hosting shopping malls or department stores on the lower floors with offices on top.
The eastern section of Middle Huaihai Road near the popular Xintiandi precinct has recently seen an influx of a large number of Western luxury brands, including Louis Vuitton , Rolex , Coach, Inc. , Salvatore Ferragamo S.p.A. , Balenciaga , Dior , Burberry , Moschino , Valentino SpA , Versace , Dolce & Gabbana , Miu Miu , UGG , Tiffany & Co. , Cartier , Gucci , Prada , Hermès , Giorgio Armani SpA , Chanel and Ermenegildo Zegna.
Huaihai Road is often put into comparison with Nanjing Road. However, most visitors agree that Huaihai Road speak for French-toned delicacy and romance while Nanjing Road welcomes the masses. The high street was once the main road of Shanghai French Concession and thus it has been regarded as epitome of elegance since then. The signs of the road are beautiful oriental plants that line the road, sumptuous department stores and shopping malls and European-style old buildings.
Again, lofty array of luxurious department stores and hotels help the Huaihai Rd. (Middle) Business Street earn the honor of Oriental Champs Elysees. The well-known are Printemps Shanghai, Hermes Flagship Store, Louise Vuitton, Parkson, Shanghai National Speciality Food Store, etc.