City description

Jean Cocteau called it “the finest theatre in the world”. Packed with stone and ostentatious decorations, Brussels’ Grand-Place is incredibly impressive. Providing the backdrop for an ambitious procession of costumes during the Ommegang and covered in a carpet of flowers every other summer, it boasts something to marvel at whichever way you turn, with the charming Baroque Town Hall as the cherry on the cake. Brussels’ city center, nicknamed the “Pentagon”, offers plenty of opportunities for a fascinating stroll former - a Beguine Convent, its covered arcades (Galeries Royales, Galerie Ravenstein), murals inspired by the great heroes of French and Belgium comic strips, an antiques market and renowned chocolatiers.  

The different neighbourhoods of the capital, which fan out around this central diamond, all boast a unique feel. Cradles of Art Nouveau, Ixelles and St Gilles boast organically curved façades and celebrate the architect, Horta, the leading light of this early 20th century artistic trend. In Laeken, home to the Royal Family, the metal spheres of the Atomium remind us of the euphoria of progress that marked the 1950s, while in Etterbeek, home to the Cinquantenaire and its triumphal arch, one is taken back to the early days of a country founded in 1830.  In response to the European institutions now well established in the city center, Mini-Europe is a miniature replica of the iconic buildings of the Old Continent; the perfect place to explore with your family, along with the Museum of Natural Sciences and its imposing dinosaur skeletons.

To find the big names in international fashion and a number of labels from the north, which are relatively rare in France, like Sacha or Hema, head to Rue Neuve, the Porte de Namur or the out-of-town Woluwe Shopping Center. The Avenue Louise houses Urban Outfitters, Delvaux and Max Mara, to name but a few. If you’re after more exclusive designers, visit the Place du Châtelain and Place Brugmann, or the area around Rue Dansaert for some fantastic window-shopping.

The latter is also a great area in which to find some fantastic restaurants serving up Belgian classics with a twist, exotic dishes or some glorious golden fries, twice cooked as tradition demands. Eat them with your fingers straight from the cone. Also well known for its beers, the Belgian capital certainly knows how to let its hair down. Every year, towards the end of the summer, it celebrates its Gueuze along with a wide range of blonde, brown and red ales, during the Belgian Beer Weekend. In May, the sound of saxophones and pianos fill the bars and streets for the Brussels Jazz Marathon, while at Christmas, traditional carols provide the perfect backdrop to some mulled wine and twinkling lights. Throughout the year, the King Baudouin Stadium and the stands of Anderlecht come alive to the buzz of supporters of the Red Devils or the “Purple and Whites”, as well as athletics fans. Not a season goes by without the city taking the chance to express its joie de vivre. Join in the party and explore the Brussels that Brel sang so beautifully about.
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