Leaving Paris for a weekend to spend it in Brussels feels so good. Having already been in the city and, this time, having as a sole goal visiting friends and wondering around, is even better. Deciding everything on a Friday afternoon, nearly unbeatable.
So taking into account that we were in a hurry and the trains were ridiculously expensive, we chose (again) to share a Blablacar. It’s a short journey and the price difference really pays off. We left Paris at 8 in the morning and we arrived in Brussels in less than three hours.
The arriving point, and the same for the departure the next day, was Gare du Midi, with ideal location and connections. So we had a coffe (so very necessary when you have woken up before 6 am), and we were ready to face the weekend.
First stop: Flagey
I’m not going to lie to you. The morning started with the biggest fail of a “gastronomic market” I had to visit and that was more like a group of six or seven market stalls in a tiny tent (where it smelled amazing like Jamaican food, that’s true). The worst part was that it took us an hour in the metro for a round trip to what seemed like the end of the world.
But we recovered fast to head towards the popular neighborhood of Flagey, in the southeast. It was Saturday and there was a market in the main square. Stalls with ready meals, fruits, meat, cheese, bright colours, ladies with their trolleys, families having a drink, sun. Such a show.
We had lunch in the well known Café Belga, in that same square. It’s a restaurant where the old-fashioned look is part of its charm. The main attraction are its big terrace and massive windows that allow you to see the whole square and the market. They have various options of simple meals (sandwiches, soups, pasta and salads) for a reasonable price. It’s clients are families with kids, people working with their computers, old men reading newspapers or friends having beers. Weirdo and nice.
Coffee in rue Haute
From Fagey, I walked towards the city centre. Not to miss the viewpoint next to the Palais de Justice (still under construction from before my first visit in 2012), from where you have a beautiful view of the city, incuding the Sacré-Coeur and the Atomium at the back.
I spent the afternoon (finally) hugging my dear Diana and letting her guide me through the most beautiful shops in rue Haute. To give the walk a good end, I reccommend a chai latte and the most amazing speculoos cheesecake I’ve ever had, in L’atelier en ville. It’s a big café, hipster-styled, whith a shop inside and where, in addition, all the furniture is on sale.
Belgian beer in Matonge
Back again in the south, in Matonge neighborhood, this time to meet up with friends in a bar, the Contrebande. It’s a simple place, yet very pleasant, with brick walls and iron and wooden furniture. They offer a great variety of Belgian beers (of course) and also wine and snacks. But be careful, because if it’s concert night they will only serve drinks.
For our only night in the city, we chose Airbnb again. And even if the appartment we chose was well located, near Gare du Midi, I won’t give you the adress since I think you could easily find somethig better (it was too strange and a little expensive).
They look like trash, but they’re gems
We left the appartment towards the Place du Jeu de Balle, where we had been told there was an antiques market we couldn’t miss. And how they were right! We had breakfast at Pin Pon, an old fire station that has been funnily reconstructed into a restaurant and café. And then ready for the treasure hunt.
The square is pure hustle and you can find nearly everything if you pay enough attention. I can’t reccommend anything but to wonder around with no hurry. And if you’re like us, you’ll leave with something else than a big smile.
On our way to the city centre, we accidentally found a market where I’d like to come back soon: the Marché Bio des Tanneurs. It’s a big supermarket of bio products where they sell not just fruits and vegetables, but bulk nuts and oil, bottled juices, wine and beer, and even bread and buns. And my favourite fact: It was full to the brim. Bravo, Brussels.
Lunch rout with surprise
Again by chance (how wonderful to walk around with no direction) we found the coolest antique shop I’ve ever visited: Stef Antiek, in Place de la Chapelle. The facade, with a thousand objects hunging up with no particular order, is the perfect prelude for what you’ll find inside. Furniture and old objects you have to dodge to keep on walking, bicycles, dust floating in the sunrays that glaze though the windows, hydraulic tiles, stools and some other stuff.
We skirt the Église Notre-Dame de la Chapelle to step into a sloping alley. In rue de Rollebeek we opened the appetite with its picturesque shops speciallising in chocolates, bulk mueslis and cereal or luxury popcorn (no jokes). And for lunch, Tod’s Café is a must.
Finish with a sweet
We took a detour to see the Place Royale and walk down the Jardin du Mont des Arts. And to finish our route, we arrived to the city centre to give a quick glance to the Manneken Pis, walk through the always impressive Grand Place and sit in the sun to enjoy some Merveilleux de Fred (delicate meringues covered in chocolate chips) on the Bourse steps. But personally, I’ll stay with waffles.
We had another coffe and walked down again towards Gare du Midi. See you soon, Brussels. We like you.