Brussels: Shopping, eating out and a little culture

27th Mar 2012
Photo of Brussels: Shopping, eating out and a little culture 1/17 by Hannah
Belgian Waffles
Photo of Brussels: Shopping, eating out and a little culture 2/17 by Hannah
Belly Dancer @Kif Kif Cafe
Photo of Brussels: Shopping, eating out and a little culture 3/17 by Hannah
Book Shelves
Photo of Brussels: Shopping, eating out and a little culture 4/17 by Hannah
Cafe Tasse Store @Brussels
Photo of Brussels: Shopping, eating out and a little culture 5/17 by Hannah
Cook & Book Leaflet
Photo of Brussels: Shopping, eating out and a little culture 6/17 by Hannah
Grand Place
Photo of Brussels: Shopping, eating out and a little culture 7/17 by Hannah
Inside Cook & Book
Photo of Brussels: Shopping, eating out and a little culture 8/17 by Hannah
Lemon Cake & Raspberry Filling
Photo of Brussels: Shopping, eating out and a little culture 9/17 by Hannah
Photo of Brussels: Shopping, eating out and a little culture 10/17 by Hannah
Manneken Pis
Photo of Brussels: Shopping, eating out and a little culture 11/17 by Hannah
Photo of Brussels: Shopping, eating out and a little culture 12/17 by Hannah
Mickey Mouse
Photo of Brussels: Shopping, eating out and a little culture 13/17 by Hannah
Mini Europe – Bxl
Photo of Brussels: Shopping, eating out and a little culture 14/17 by Hannah
Revisiting Childhood
Photo of Brussels: Shopping, eating out and a little culture 15/17 by Hannah
The Cook & Book Store
Photo of Brussels: Shopping, eating out and a little culture 16/17 by Hannah
The magic window
Photo of Brussels: Shopping, eating out and a little culture 17/17 by Hannah
The mini versions

After living in France, more precisely in Paris for 10 years or so, the idea of Belgium that I had was pretty negative. For me Brussels was like the country side: a place where people were slow, too polite, and spoke with a weird French accent. Since that time, my mind has changed and this country/city turned out to be a true creativity revelation to me! Yes people are slower than in Paris. Yes, people are more relaxed and chill than in Paris. But… Belgian people are also more welcoming, charming, and nice! I like to define Brussels as the perfect compromise between living in Switzerland and Paris. When moving to Belgium, Brussels, you will get the Swiss quality of life mixed with some of the creativity and dynamic you could find in Paris. And as a bonus, you will get to discover the “Belgian Touch”. No wonder why more and more Parisian/French families decide to jump in the Thalys train, leave their stressful routines and embrace the Belgian lifestyle, right? ;-)  

Another of my pre-conceived ideas about Belgium was that shopping was a foreign word for Belgian citizens. Where was this idea coming from again? I couldn't tell.. But what I can tell you now, is that Brussels is a city hosting a wide range of boutiques that if you knew about, you would die to check! Let me open your minds and lead you to my secret addresses :-)

 Quick thing you must know about Belgium: 

  • They have the most famous comic books writers and creators (Tintin, Smurfs…) 
  • They have the greatest singers of all times (Jacques Brel, Edith Piaf…)
  • They have great beers and fries, yummy
  • They have great chocolate and waffles, super yummy

I ♥ Food in Brussels

As I often visit my mom in Brussels, I have started to gather a little list of good restaurant addresses. And yes, I will also tell you where to eat the best fries, waffles and mussels ;-) In Brussels what I like is that the quality of life is very good and prices are not expensive compared to cities like London or Paris. Plus, in terms of food and beverage outlets you have a lot of choice!

In this business oriented city, you will find many restaurants that will suggest light lunch menus.

Looking For Originality

In Brussels you have a lot of original restaurants. People there are quite artistic and innovative. I recommend you to go on the “Place du Chatelain”. Indeed, this area is full of restaurants that are worth spending an evening in.

After several visits in Brussels, I must confess: my trips don’t always involve shopping. I also like to widen my horizons and cultivate myself a bit. Even though Brussels is not a very big city, it has a major role in the European Union and a great history to discover. In general it is quite a young city with a lot going on in terms of exhibitions, art, culture, music… People are open minded, very nice and will make you feel very welcome. If you’re in the Belgian Capital for a short week-end, you should start by taking a walk in the historic centre and enjoy the architecture, the decor and Belgian atmosphere.
Photo of Brussels, Belgium by Hannah
This avenue is well reputed in the capital and is often called the “Belgian Champs Elysees”. This large and long avenue is full of shops and international brands but is also hosting the most luxurious names such as Tiffany & Co, Hermes, Dior etc… There are also several nightclubs in the area. So as you see, many of its characteristics match the French Champs Elysees.
Photo of Avenue Louise, Brussels, Belgium by Hannah
Newly opened in the Belgian Capital! Worth a look inside and a picture with the male models but the prices are of course much higher than in the US and the collections are more restricted. Mainly basic pieces available.
Photo of Abercrombie & Fitch, Boulevard de Waterloo, Brussels, Belgium by Hannah
Recently opened in Brussels, the famous brand started its invasion. The choice is quite large even though the prices are also higher than in the states or UK. As the brand’s policy applies all over the world, you will still get your 10% discount if you’re a student.
Photo of Urban Outfitters, Meir, Antwerp, Belgium by Hannah
This Belgian brand is quite similar to what A&F offers but tends to be even more casual. The prices are more or less similar to A&F also, even though it is a little more “sportswear”.
Photo of Superdry™, Avenue Louise, Brussels, Belgium by Hannah
This typically Belgian brand can be found everywhere in Brussels. The style is both casual and vintage. It is quite an interesting boutique to be discovered but the prices are expensive considering the style of the clothes. Concerning the shoes, there are 2 or 3 “galleries” in which you can go and that are full of shoes shops ! There is a lot of choice !!!
Photo of Bellerose (Chartreux), Rue des Chartreux, Brussels, Belgium by Hannah
Located out of the centre of Brussels, these 2 chic and calm suburbs have some very nice boutiques to be visited. It is perfect to go there if you are tired of the crowd and people buzzing all around. Just escape from the city and go shop in peace :-)
Photo of Uccle, Belgium by Hannah
In these shop you will find gorgeous dresses, jeans and some designers’ pieces. The prices are not too high and there is quite a choice! I like to go there in order to avoid always going to Zara etc… If you are looking for something “different” at affordable and sometimes expensive prices, these are the places to visit!
Photo of No Concept Doyenné, Rue du Doyenné, Uccle, Belgium by Hannah
The Grand Place is a highlight of your visit to the Belgian capital. The “Hotel de Ville” and architecture are both impressive. There are also many cafes and terraces if you want to enjoy a drink over there. It is a very touristic area where people from all over the world pass by. During Christmas, there is a “light and Sound” show happening and the Christmas market is implemented. Both of them a really great and attract a lot of people!
Photo of Grand-Place, Brussels, Belgium by Hannah
This little statue is one of the main attractions of the city. During the national day or for big events, it is even dressed with special costumes! Many times when I was looking for the Manneken Pis, I had to struggle to find it. Indeed, dont expect it to be a large statue ! It is so crowded in front of it that the crowd hides the little man!! But it is funny to see people’s faces when they discover that: “THAT'S IT???” hihi ;-)
Photo of Manneken Pis, Belgium by Hannah
The Atomium and the Mini Europe centre are both a bit ex-centred and require to go there by car or with public transportation (which I don't recommend because in Belgium public transportation are SO slow…). If you have kids or if you want to have some fun, do something special and discover an original place, I would recommend you to spend half a day there. The Atomium is a great piece of futuristic architecture that has a very very fast elevator. You can go from a sphere to another and you will enjoy a great view of the city! They dont have student prices unfortunately. The Mini Europe park is fun to visit. You have all the famous monuments in mini sizes from each European country and in front of each monument you can touch buttons to activate a sound which is most of the time the country’s official music. I think its possible to buy at the same time a ticket for the atomium and M.E
Photo of Atomium, Avenue de l'Atomium, Brussels, Belgium by Hannah
This restaurant is located on the “Place du Chatelain”, a very lively, young and chill area of the city. It is a small outlet that will provide you with salads and other dishes at reasonnable prices
Photo of Raconte-Moi des Salades, Place du Châtelain, Ixelles, Belgium by Hannah
This restaurant is located in “Ixelles” and offers mainly dishes coming from all over the Mediteranean Sea such as Moroccan, Algerian, Greek food. The atmosphere is absolutley great: arab music, belly dancer on week-ends, friendly staff,… Plus, the budget for dinner is quite affordable considering that the dishes’ sizes are quite big. As it they offer “Mediteranean cuisine” you might think: “the food will not be as good as in Morocco” lol. But the quality of food is really good and worth it. If you want to take a trip outside the city for a night or escape your daily routine, I highly recommend you the Kif Kif! Of course there is a small drawback: don’t forget to make a reservation as it is quite a popular address. My favorite meal there? The “Tajine D’agneau aux pruneaux et amandes” ;-)
Photo of Kif Kif Café, Square de Biarritz, Ixelles, Belgium by Hannah
This brasserie style restaurant offers traditional French and Belgian cuisine. I recommend you to go there more with your family for a nice lunch or dinner. The service is perfect and efficient. You will be welcomed in a typical “brasserie decor”. Prices are more expensive than usual because the restaurant is located outside the city centre, in Uccle, and it can be considered as a more up-scale brasserie.
Photo of Restauration Nouvelle - La Brasserie du Prince d Orange, Avenue du Prince d'Orange, Uccle, Belgium by Hannah
This worldwide famous chain is Belgian! So of course you can imagine that they are present all over the country! In this restaurant you can both have lunch or breakfast or BRUNCH! I often go there when I am in town and never regretted it! Last time I tested the brunch with my friends and we all absolutely loved it! The decor is cozy, warm and traditional. I love to have lunch there and usually order the “chevre speculoos crumble salad” accompanied with a fresh home-made raspberry lemonade ;-) Prices are fair and service quite efficient. If you’re planning on going there for the Brunch, don’t go too late otherwise you might have to face the crowd and overwhelmed staff! Also for lunch time, if you go too late (around 1:30/2:00), all the dishes may not be available any more cause everything is fresh.
Photo of Le Pain Quotidien, Rue des Sablons, Brussels, Belgium by Hannah
If you have never heard of the Speculoos biscuits, shame on you ;-) You must taste these delicious and savory cookies before leaving Brussels!!! In this city-centred store you can get yourself some delicious waffles, cookies and other stuff to take home!
Photo of Maison Dandoy, Rue au Beurre, Belgium by Hannah
Located in the centre of Brussels, next to the touristic area of the “Grand Place”, this store/cafe is offering a wide variety of traditional and exceptional Belgian chocolates. Instead of buying your chocolates in some industrial, touristic and chemical place around, stop by the Cafe Tasse Store, get yourself a nice hot chocolate or capuccino, order yourself some chocolate and spend some quality time surrounded with welcoming and charming staff. I believe it is from far the most cozy place in Brussels. They also have a terrace!
Photo of Café-Tasse Store, Grasmarkt, Grand-Place, Belgium by Hannah
The Cook&Book store is located a little outside the city centre, more precisely in the suburb of Brussels called Uccle. The advantage when having a little sister is to discover these unexpected places you would never enter if you are not a child or if you don’t have any! It isn’t a library, it isn’t the latest trendy cafe to try… Its both!. As the name suggests, you both have an eating aspect and a reading aspect. Thanks to the original and overwhelming decor, customers can’t stop themselves from touching the fur animals, opening a book, looking at the vinyl covers. A great way to get your child mind back is to just take a seat at the big friendly table, order yourself a nice plate of pasta and enjoy the playful and joyful atmosphere :) Every detail has been thought of: the big fur animals patchwork on the sofas, the little Mickey mouse characters in the lamps, the chest game tables, the tagged ceiling with Tintin scenes… We only had afternoon drinks but it was enough to make us travel in time and remember our childhood memories :) On our way out, I also noticed the fresh cakes and pastries in the window… can’t wait to go back to Cook&Book to actually have time to try one !!!!! It is the perfect place for families and children to spend some quality time all together. The concept will please both the big and small ones ! Moreover, in a country where it rains so much and you can not enjoy being outside, it is important to find nice places you want to go back to and where you know you can spend some good time in with kids :)
Photo of Cook & Book, Place du Temps Libre, Woluwe-Saint-Lambert, Belgium by Hannah
You won’t find better cup-cake shop than Lilicup! It's the best of the best, la creme de la creme. Lilicup a.k.a the cutest doll house in town is located in the Chatelain area and surrounded by a selection a very cool independant shops like you can only find in Brussels. LYA loved the details of the fine dishes, the little piece of home made cookie on the side of the tea, the impressive list of different teas (jasmin, green, red, black…) and the fact that you can choose a big or small cupcake! Are you convinced yet? Go get some cozyness and crave your sugar rush with some Lilicup delicacies ^^
Photo of Lilicup, Rue du Page, Brussels, Belgium by Hannah