Even though I have been living in Brussels for six months now, sometimes I feel like I’m not taking advantage of all the city has to offer. I guess a lot of you can relate when I say that very often we don’t see the beauty of the city where we actually live. When going on a citytrip I enter every single beautiful building on my way, do my research on the newest and trendiest places to eat or drink and make sure not to waste too much time. In Brussels, however, all too often I stick to my routines and I don’t take the effort to explore new places. I decided to change that and last Sunday was the first of – hopefully – many days filled with new experiences in my hometown. This article will give you some ideas on what to do and where to eat – it’s roughly based on my own Sunday last week.
8 AM – Marché du Midi
Let’s all be honest, most of us quite enjoy a little lay-in on a Sunday. So don’t feel pressured to wake up just yet. If you do, however, it may be a nice idea to start your day at the Marché du Midi. This is an enormous market around the Brussels South train station where you’ll find everything from fruits over plants to pants. I especially like to buy very cheap fruits, vegetables and plants over there. If you’re feeling a bit hungry already, make sure to check out the Moroccan pancakes (you’ll find a stand under the bridge). The original ones are with cheese and honey, although I prefer the ones without anything or with just a little Nutella.
Marché du Midi
Boulevard du Midi / Zuidlaan
10.30 AM – Yoga at La Tricoterie
Who said you can’t do some exercise on a Sunday? After all, you have to burn all those calories you’ll add by eating your way around the city. I recently discovered this place and absolutely love it. La Tricoterie is a cooperative and non-profit organization, offering a place to meet new people. They have a very wide offer, ranging from brunches (also on Sunday) to yoga. The atmosphere is always on point and people from all ages gather here to have a nice afternoon and/or evening. As far as the yoga goes: it’s one of the cheaper places in Brussels to practice and the instructor Elaine is really nice. It can get a bit busy, so make sure to arrive on time and to send a mail to reserve yourself a mat.
12.30 PM – Marché aux puces
As you may have noticed, I do like my markets. This one is probably as chaotic as the Marché du Midi, but over here the vendors sell vintage stuff. Some of the things they’re selling are absolutely overpriced and crap, but if you put some effort into it, you may just find that treasure you’ve been looking for. Make sure to bargain and carry some small change with you, because over the past few years prices have risen and very often the original price is way too high. While browsing or afterwards you can have a drink at La Brocante or Pin Pon – the one being very old school, the other rather hipster. Depending on what you prefer.
Marché aux puces
Place du Jeu de Balle / Vossenplein
2.30 PM – Brunch at Chicago
Ahhh finally, time to indulge yourself in some awesome food! Chicago is one of those always-good places; whether you’re alone, with friends or with your boy/girlfriend, you’ll like this one. There are different brunch formulas on Sunday, but I prefer the ones they also serve on weekdays. The Sunday special is definitely good too, but it’s more expensive and just way more than I can eat. Even though it’s delicious. Last time I went for the American breakfast: pancakes, eggs, bacon, coffee, fresh orange juice… I’m already tempted to go there right now while typing this! If you’re not very hungry but still fancy something sweet, it’s also possible to order a waffle or just pancakes. Or spaghetti. Or soup. As you might have noticed by now, I love this place and I think it’s an absolute must-visit! Make sure to make a reservation though, as it gets very very busy on weekends.
Rue de Flandre / Vlaamsesteenweg 45
4 PM – Wander around the city center
In my opinion, it’s pretty important to sometimes just stroll around a city and get lost a little. The center of Brussels has a lot to offer so just follow your nose, your eyes or your feet to wherever they lead you! Anyway, I’ll give you some tips so you’ll know where to start. Place Sainte-Catherine and the Marché aux Poissons are really close to Chicago Café and just two nice squares to hang out – especially when the sun is out. Have a drink under the trees at Café de Markten if you want or just sit down in front of the church or next to the water. From here on you can go towards la Bourse (the stock exchange) and further on to Manneken Pis. This peeing little guy is quite famous and very touristy, but I still like to stop by and see if he’s still there doing his duty from time to time. If you’re new to Brussels and you haven’t seen the Grand Place yet (which is almost impossible) then go there. You’ll see a lying statue on your right side just before stepping onto the square. Touch it, but be careful: it’s said that you’ll be pregnant within a year! Now that you’re here it’s only a short walk to the Galleries. This covered street is full of fancy shops, nice chocolatiers and hidden treasures (like bookshop Tropismes). Wanna have an afternoon coffee or snack? Stop by Mokafe or Arcadi (who does the best lemon meringue pie).
Café De Markten
Rue du Vieux Marché aux Grains / Oude Graanmarkt 5
Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert
Galerie des Princes / Prinsengalerij 11
Rue d’Arenbergstraat 1B
7 PM (or earlier during winter) – Botanique
Le Botanique literally means the botanical garden. Before the national botanical garden of Belgium was moved to Meise (just outside of Brussels), it used to be here and the building was the greenhouse. Nowadays it serves as a cultural venue, hosting exhibitions, concerts and more. Although located very close to the Brussels North train station, I had never been here until last week and that’s a shame. The building is still surrounded by a botanical garden and even though it’s probably more worthwhile during summer, the park is a very welcome place of quiet in this otherwise very traffic-jammed part of town. If you’re feeling thirsty you can have a drink in the cafe or – when it’s a bit more sunny and hot – buy something in the supermarket across the street and just enjoy it on one of the many benches. If you want to go to an event, check out the calendar on their website!
8 PM – Squatter dinner at Rue Royale 123
This place was the whole reason of my latest little Sunday outing: I did an interview with them for school. 123 Logements is a non-profit organization pleading for legally squatting empty buildings all over the city. Not only do people live here, but they also organize bike fixing moments, legal advice, dinners… All the food is made with leftovers from nearby supermarkets and completely vegan, to assure that anyone can freely enjoy their meal. There’s also no fixed price, you can give as much as you want or as you can spare. The public is very diverse: some people are inhabitants, others live in the neighbourhood, there are homeless people and tourists. Be prepared for an experience that’s a bit different from your usual dinner location!
9.30 PM – Experience Brussels at night
There is so much to do in Brussels at night that it would take us too far to go over every possibility. I myself went to the Brussels Light Festival last weekend, but this is an annual thing so you’ll have to wait a year to visit it by yourself. Other possibilities include catching a movie at CINEMATEK (an alternative movie theater with different locations throughout the city) or having drinks at Delirium Café (yes it’s touristy, but 2500 different beers in one café deserve the appropriate amount of attention). Brussels is Yours offers a quite nice overview of the different events in Brussels every weekend, so make sure to check them out for some inspiration!
Impasse de la Fidélité / Getrouwheidsgang 4
So, that’s it, you’ve spent an entire Sunday in beautiful Brussels! I hope you enjoyed it and let me know if you think I should do more of these!
Camille Van Puymbroeck is a 22-year old based in Brussels. Some of her personal interests are travel, food and photography. She started her own blog as part of her Journalism studies.