Exploring the great outdoors - Chengdu 2 - Magazine | Monocle

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Meet your guide:

Alain-Thomas Briere, general manager, W Hotel

Born into a family of hoteliers, Frenchman Alain-Thomas Briere has spent most of his life hopping from one city to another across Europe and Asia. The general manager of W Chengdu has lived in China since 2013 and has called Chengdu home for more than three years. The active and adventurous expat loves Chengdu’s spontaneous yet slow pace of life and spends much of his free time exploring Chengdu’s parks and open spaces – one of the city’s biggest draws.

“What I love about Chengdu is the people. They have their own way of thinking, communicating and spending time with family. Many of them will head off to Beijing and Shanghai but they will always come back. Over the weekend you’ll see people make their way to teahouses and mahjong parlours after a long night out. There’s a sense of slowness and balance that you can’t find in other major Chinese cities. Another outstanding quality about this place is the drive to build the city within a park rather than the other way around. The government is constructing a large interconnected greenway, melding pathways, bicycle lanes and jogging tracks. You can cycle virtually anywhere and there’s always somewhere to stop for a picnic. The electronic music festival Creamfriends is usually staged at the Intangible Cultural Heritage Park. Large-scale concerts are on hold for now, so I’ve been trying out the city’s jazz bars. Oak Nose and Riverside are my current favourites.”


Alain-Thomas’s recommendations:


Green living:

Jincheng Park

I love exercising and spending time at Jincheng Park. From my house, I can easily run 15km. What’s great is that there’s something for everyone: kayaks, sailboats, an indoor exhibition space. It’s a very family-friendly – and dog-friendly – place to go to.


New lease of life:


On weekends I like to walk by 1906, an old industrial area that was repurposed for restaurants, bars and recreational facilities. I go to the big badminton centre with my friends.


Going up in the world:


In Chengdu there is plenty of opportunity for exploration outside the city. Dujiangyan, a couple of hours’ drive away, is home to an early method of irrigation and is surrounded by mountains that take up to three days to summit.


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Slow living


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