22 Things I Love About Brussels

I have been living in Brussels for over 15 years. I started my university studies here, continued with a stage, I started my first job here, I met my husband in Brussels, we bought our first apartment together here, our baby boy was born in Brussels … Brussels is our home. Which is why the horrific events of 22 March hit so close!

By no means does this post try to explain or analyse the events of this week. Far better informed professionals are busy doing that. This is after all a light hearted blog on our (foodie) discoveries in Brussels. So while we regroup and continue our lives in Brussels after the 22 March attacks, here are 22 things we love about Brussels. Would love to hear what you will add. 

Architecture

From amazing art nouveau houses to gritty (and frankly quite ugly) 60s buildings, Brussels is a mix and match of the beautiful, the ugly and the weird. So much so that the architecture in Brussels even has its own name Bruxellisation.

Beer 

There are over 180 breweries in Belgium that brew beer for us people. I mean common’!

Comics 

I ignored the strong tradition of Belgium for comics before coming here, but since moving to Brussels I have become a fan of TinTin, of Gaston Lagaffe, of Le Chat. Check them out on the comic book route throughout Brussels.

Chocolate 

Not sure this needs much introduction … but 1 chocolate a day keeps the doctor away. Tried and tested. Just saying.

Dance

The dance scene in Belgium is fantastic. I still remember seeing my first PARTS performance in Brussels and while probably not getting the whole story, loving it. If you have not yet seen a dance performance in Brussels, don’t wait too long.

Fashion 

Quirky, a bit left field, a bit under the radar. But Belgians are making their mark on the fashion world. If you missed the recent exhibition ‘The Belgians’ at the Bozar in Brussels, then head to MoMu in Antwerp for a serious fashion fix.

Festivals 

Brussels has a festival for almost everything. Jazz marathon? Check. Food trucks? Check. More food you say? Eat! Brussels has you covered. Design? Check. And. And. And.

Frites 

With moules. With steak. With carbonnades. With mayonnaise. With […]

Grand Place 

A landmark of Brussels, the Grand Place is one of the most beautiful squares in Europe. Granted I am biased, but it is a true gem. A UNESCO World heritage site since 1998, no Brussels visit can be complete without a stroll through the Grand Place.

JCVD 

The mussels from Brussels! With his own statue and all.

Magritte 

Surrealism at its best. From a museum dedicated entirely to his works of art to a clin d’oeuil on Twitter last November, Magritte is everywhere. Or is he?

Music 

Between Brel and Stromae, Brussels music was not high on the radar. We love discovering great Belgian music, and tend to keep an eye on the programme of Ancienne Belgique and Botanique. Always in for a surprise.

Parks 

Oh, the debates I had over the years that Brussels is not a green city. Yes it is! Parc d’Egmont is one of my favourites, Parc Tenbosch was a welcome baby walking distraction, Park Cinquantanaire is a great running spot … do I need to go on?

People

What makes Brussels great are the people. On any given day, be it on the metro, in a meeting, at the market or indeed at home I hear a multitude of languages being spoken. With languages come different cultures. With different cultures come different foods. Happy circle!

Poirot 

You know the standing joke that it is impossible to name 10 famous Belgians? Well Poirot always made it on the list … and yes, we do still love to watch old Poirot movies.

Stars 

For a tiny country, Belgium counts an incredible number of Michelin star restaurants. Brussels has its own starry restaurants, but honestly you can eat well in a range of places – from the corner fritkot, to the affordable brasserie, the hipster café or indeed the starred Villa Lorraine.

Take Eat Easy 

A new entrepreneurial wave is taking over Brussels and I love it. Take Eat Easy. B2N. Air’B’Sit. All Brussels start-ups worth discovering.

Waffles 

Any day. Every day.

19 communes 

Oh the administration. The hassle. The missing paper. But what a joy to moan and share stories as expats about our Brussels administration adventures. I lived in 5 different communes so am pretty much expat expert… however now prefer to focus on discovering their culinary offering than sit around for papers. 

Union St Gilloise

Our local football club which brings the passionate people of Saint Gilles together for a beer, a cheer, a moan. A royal team with some of the most dedicated supporters out there. And yes, you guessed it … I am not the football fan. 

Waterloo 

Not in Brussels as such but so much on the Brussels tourist guide that no visit from family or friends has been complete without going to see Waterloo. And since there is a special beer brewed to honour the name, our visits have become just that bit more interesting.

Weather 

Yes, it rains. All most of the time. But after rain comes sun. And then Brussels starts living outdoors again – cafes, terraces, parks come to life and we forget the rain. Until it rains again.

Hope you enjoyed this post and I would love to read what makes Brussels special for you.

 

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  • Peter Maddens

    The markets – Gare du Midi and Flagey on Sundays, Vossenplein basically every day?

  • The terraces, full as soon as we can catch a ray of sunshine! (I love the Poirot movies, too, by the way ;-))

  • The dance scene was even better years ago when Maurice Béjart and later Mark Morris were resident choreographers at La Monnaie.

    I would add Place du Luxembourg (known affectionately as “Place Lux” or Plux) to your list. Where else in the world could you find such an international social gathering?

  • What a great article. Really enjoyed this one. You should do a lot more like this, sort of listing articles!