My parents are Congolese, and my Dad moved to Wallonia (the southern, French speaking part of Belgium) when he was 11 years old. I was born and raised in Brussels and except for the 3 years of going to University in England, I have lived here all my life. These are my three favourite places in Brussels.
Tervuren Park is a sprawling 511 acres of lush, green, ponds and peaceful woods. It is actually slightly outside of Brussels, but easily accessible from the Brussels city centre. It stretches all around what used to be one of the palaces of King Leopold II, which now hosts the Museum of Central Africa (it has been refurbished and will reopen to the public in a couple of months). I love to go there alone, whenever I need some peace and quiet, it’s my little green cocoon. I typically spend a morning walking all around the park, taking an occasional break to read on a bench.
Rue du Bailli
My crush on Rue du Bailli started when I was a child. What I like about it is the fact that it’s made up of unique restaurants, cafés and boutiques. It’s a breath of fresh air because it’s different from high streets that have the usual franchised shops that everyone knows. I guess that is what gives Rue du Bailli a vibe of its own, and a personal stamp. There are designer store fronts, gift shops, homeware boutiques etc., so I think it’s the perfect shopping destination, for those who have a taste for out of the box items.My favourite spots are the newsagent whose shop is almost completely painted in baby pink, and there is also a great shop where I buy party decor items when I’m planning events.
Le Grand Place de Bruxelles
Le Grand Place is globally renowned, and rightfully nicknamed “the most beautiful square in the world”. It may seem weird for a local to love such a touristy place, but I honestly do love the Grand Place. I love its centuries old pavements, and the gleaming statue of St Michael slaying a dragon, adorning the top of the City Hall’s tower. Cheesy but true. I have fond memories of deep conversations with friends sitting on the sidewalk pavements, and whenever I’m meeting up with a friend somewhere downtown, I’m just magnetically drawn to the Grand Place.
These are my three favourites, but if you ever visit Brussels, my tip is to look for the hidden gems like restaurants, parks and museums, and find your own. Brussels is not your typical capital city with flashy attractions. It is discrete, full of personality and laid back, just like its people.
Catch up on our “Three of my favourite places” series here.