We enter into a small chocolate shop in one of the lanes by the Grand Place in Brussels (Bruxelles). Though no attendant is seen from outside, a wind chime attached to the door signals that somebody is in; the shopkeeper appears to our service. We are enamored by this European style of greeting. We are in Brussels, the capital city of Belgium in Europe that is also famous for its vibrant shopping markets, besides being the capital city of the European Union.
Brussels abounds in shopping spots. According to the ministry of Economy and Employment of the Brussels, the city’s compact geography and a lot of shopping areas, each with specific characteristic, make it easy for tourists to get around in. So, one can easily reach most of the shopping areas in no time from the hotel of stay. We explore three major streets on a walking round trip in Brussels.
To begin with shopping expedition in Brussels, start on with Rue Neuve, the actual pedestrian shopping street and in fact, the longest one in Brussels, in the middle of the town. With no vehicles allowed in the street, it offers a carefree space to the walkers and one can enjoy shopping calmly here. The street is packed with clothing chains, fashion stores, perfumes, gifts, music and more such stores. At the north end of Rue Neuve, there’s a mall too. City 2, the only shopping mall in the center of town, has over 100 stores, plus cafes and restaurants.
Following the shops all the way down Rue Neuve Street takes you to the Stock Exchange building on your right, and you know you have reached the surroundings of Rue Dansaert where the Romans founded Brussels in the 10th century. However, unlike its history, the area has all contemporary shops. The place is rather trendy with Belgium designers’ boutiques, clothing and accessories stores and more.
From Rue Dansaert it’s worth walking a few meters away on your left to reach the Grand Place (Grote Markt), the central square of the city which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has tourists thronging it the most. The place is a symbol of European history but not everyone knows that it’s also a wonderful shopping destination for the real Belgian souvenirs. The narrow streets around the Grand Place is full of small shops where you can get everything that’s Belgian – from Belgian tapestries, Belgian laces, Belgian beers, Belgian chocolates and pralines to souvenirs of Manneken Pis, beer mugs and even comic strips of Tintin. In fact, Belgian tapestry shops are in abundance at this place. You can get full range of home linen made of these tapestries. Even tapestry paintings and wall hangings make for a worth buy. And when you get tired, munch on some seafood dishes or burgers at the street side restaurants that look very inviting. Also, it is in one of these streets where Manneken Pis, the famed bronze statue of a urinating boy, lies.
What’s more? The Grand Place doesn’t let you stop. The Royal Galleries just off the Grand Place is not to be missed. It’s a passageway donned in form of an enclosed portico with very high ceilings. Walking on the cobbled pavements of these galleries with shops, cafes and terraced restaurants on either side, imparts an old world charm. The area is also suitable for spending evening with a lot of local feel and variety of choices for having food. Most of the shops at the Grand Place are open until 9 PM.
Be it for the traditional Belgian tapestries, Belgian laces, Belgian beers, souvenirs or the trendy clothes, Brussels’ street shopping is an out-and-out experience. And if you thought you have missed out on anything while in Brussels, treat yourself with Belgian waffles along with some hot chocolate sauce.