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Belgium : Brussels - September 2010

Country Code: Dial ++32 for Belgium

Still basking in the afterglow of summer, Brussels retains its heat with a host of events this month. The Balloons Day Parade features giant, helium-fi lled versions of cartoon characters fl oating across the city centre (11 September), the Dimanche sans Voiture frees the city of traffi c on Sunday 19 and various cultural institutions, such as the opera house Théâtre de la Monnaie, launch new seasons. Adrian Mourby is our city guide

Getting around

Brussels Airport

Bus: The No 12 bus runs every 30 minutes between the airport and Rond-Point Schuman. The journey takes about 30 minutes. A oneway ticket costs €3.
Train: Trains from the airport run every 20 minutes at peak times. The journey takes 15 minutes and trains go to Brussels’ three mainline stations. Tickets cost approximately €2,80
Taxi: A taxi from the airport to the city centre will cost around €25-35. The journey should take about 25 minutes.
Tourist information: The main tourist office can be found on Grand’Place in the city centre (tel. (0)2 513 8940, www.brussels.

THE BOURSE

The area around the Stock Exchange is far from a staid business zone, offering great shopping, eateries and nightlife.

Culture vultures – Despite its politically correct approach to the arts, the Beursschouwburg theatre (20-28 Rue Auguste Orts, beursschouwburg.be) still knows how to put on a show. On the Dimanche sans Voiture it takes to the streets with events including a Japanese paper crafts workshop, an African brass and percussion concert and DJs mixing Balkan beats and gypsy grooves.

Must eat – A Brussels institution, Au Suisse (73-75 Boulevard Anspach, ausuisse.be) has been the city centre’s most popular sandwich shop for close to a century. Try a baguette stuffed with seafood salad or steak tartare (Américain préparé, in the local parlance), served briskly by the green-and-white-smocked dinner ladies. Kika (177 Boulevard Anspach, tel. (0)2 513 3832) does light, continental fare in a 1970s retro setting, with mains around €20, or Anata (74 Boulevard Anspach, tel (0)2 502 8587, anatarestaurant.com) offers excellent value for money with its sushi and sashimi – expect to pay about €25 for your fishy fix.

Dance the night away – Salsa fiends flock to Cartagena (70 Rue Marché au Charbon) to shake it Latin-style. The rhythm’s sudamericano, but the crowd is diverse. Gay party series La Démence (lademence.com) launches the autumn party season with its Delice night at Fuse (208 Rue Blaesstraat) on 24 September. Ancienne Belgique (110 Boulevard Anspach, abconcerts.be) may hold the distinction of being the capital’s Flemish cultural centre, but most Belgians know it as the premiere concert venue for indie rock, world music, electronica and other grooves. This month, the venue welcomes alternative darlings Isobel Campbell and Blonde Redhead, R&B sensation Jason Derülo, post-punk legends Killing Joke and more.

Shop til you drop – Rue Antoine Dansaert is fashion central, and the shop that started the street on its road to style is Stijl at number 74. In the 1980s, it was the first shop to champion Dries Van Noten, Ann Demeulemeester, Dirk Bikkembergs and other Flemish designers. Today it also carries designs for men and women by Kris Van Assche, Rick Owens and Costume National. Or to undress for success, hit Underwear (47 Rue Antoine Dansaert), where you can stock up on designer undies by Hanro, Eres, L’Homme Invisible and other top names.

DE BROUCKÈRE

De Brouckère Square lies above the rapid transit station and is well connected in all sorts of ways.

Sleep soundly – In the shadow of the city’s opera house, The Dominican (9 Rue Léopold, tel. (0)2 203 0808, dominican.be, rooms from €140) is a boutique hotel offering comfort, class and convenience, with Wallpaper* magazine-worthy décor and excellent service. If The Dominican is outside your budget, the art deco Hôtel l’Espérance (1-3 Rue du Finistère, tel. (0)2 219 1028, hotel-esperance.be, rooms from €80) is modestly priced, based in an accessible location, and has a great café (see page 106).

Culture vultures – Théâtre de la Monnaie (Place de la Monnaie, tel. (0)70 233939, lamonnaie.be) opens its new season with Yvonne, Princesse de Bourgogne, a co-production with the Opéra National de Paris and Vienna’s Festwochen of a new opera written by Belgian composer Philippe Boesmans (9-21 September). The opera house closes the month with En Atendant, the latest work by renowned Belgian choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, employing polyphonic music from the 14th century (25-30 September).

Must drink – With its exquisite art nouveau interior, Café Métropole (31 Place de Brouckère) is a picture-postcard place to polish off a cappuccino or two. Less obvious is Café l’Espérance (1-3 Rue du Finistère), a prime example of hiding in plain sight. On a side street only 50 metres away, it remains one of Brussels’ best-kept secrets. With its understated, sleek, art deco interior, it’s perfect for a romantic rendezvous.

Shop til you drop – The main drag of the city centre runs from the north rail station (Gare du Nord) to the south (Gare du Midi) and changes names four or five times. At the north end, the city’s largest selection of English-language magazines and books are sold at Waterstone’s (71-75 Boulevard Adolph Max). The south end is dotted with second-hand bookshops, the biggest of which is Pêle Mêle (55 Boulevard Lemonnier), where you can find not only books but also videogames, magazines and vinyl. Lovers of vintage R&B and disco should head to United Musik (26 Place Fontainas), but for the broadest selection of vinyl, The Collector (26 Rue de la Bourse) has the competition beat.

SCHAERBEEK

With its immigrant population, Schaerbeek is one of the most diverse areas of Brussels – making it great for culinary exploration.

Culture vultures – Halles de Schaerbeek (22 Rue Royale Sainte-Marie, halles.be) is one of the city’s top venues for dance and performance art. This former 19th-century market kicks off its autumn season with Sorties 8-9-10, a dazzling spectacle of the circus arts, performed by graduates of Brussels’ circus academy ECSA.

Must eat – Starting from the Botanique cultural centre, the Chaussée de Haecht bustles with Turkish pizzerias serving their own version of the Italian speciality. One of the best outlets is Bergama (121 Chaussée de Haecht, tel. (0)2 219 0880) – a little more polished than its neighbours, it also features belly dancing on certain nights.



Compiled by Adrian Mourby

Previous issues for Brussels
 
   
Whilst every effort is made to ensure accuracy,
please confirm event/venue details in advance.

 

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