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When you visit Bruges in the summer, and you want to stretch your legs after walking all the small streets, a picnic in one of the parks is an excellent alternative.
If you didn’t bring a picnic with you, you will find bakeries in almost every street, and drinks, fruits and other stuff you fancy can be found in the small supermarkets or vegetable and fruit stores across town.
One of my favourite spots for a picnic (since it is close to my house), is the area around the windmills, located on the old city walls, next to the canal around the city, between the “Kruispoort” (old fortified town gate 1402) and the “Dampoort”. There are three windmills in total, the one in the middle can be visited: the Sint-Janshuismolen, an old stilt-mill is open from May first to the end of August daily from 9.30 to 12.30 and 13.15 to 17:00, except on Mondays. It still works as a bakery mill. (milling grains to flower), the miller will shows you around. The windmill closest to the town gate is named “De Nieuwe Papegaai” is an old oil-mill, and the third one is named “Bonne Chiere” and is an old wooden stilt-mill (1888), both of them are out of use. In between the windmills are big patches of grass, where it is great to sit or lie down when the weather allows it.
The windmills are on your left when you stand in front of the town gate with your back to the city centre. On your right (as well as on your left) is a walking path next to the water and some lovely grass areas where you can sit down when the weather is dry. The bridges opening and closing for boats to pass are also an attraction for many tourists, but often annoying for locals, since it often screws with our schedule to get somewhere in time! (although it also forces us to slow down our daily hasted pace)
If you need to buy stuff for your picnic next to the windmills, you can find two bakeries and a small supermarket in the street that leads from the centre up to the town gate: Langestraat (translated as “long street”).
There is a bakery just 50 meters away from the gate: Commeine bakery: Langestraat 142 (it is closed on Wednesdays and Thursdays), about 200 m closer to the centre you have another bakery: Lievens, Langestraat, 82 (closed Sunday afternoon), almost in front of the bakery is a butcher’s shop where they sell filled sandwiches (on French bread), or prepared meat to eat with bread: Butcher De Leeuwenbrug, Langestraat 61 (closed on Sundays and closed at lunch time between 13:00 and 14:00), and in the same area: city supermarket: Smatch Langestraat 55 (closed on Sunday afternoon, open till 19:30 in the evening)
If you have rested your legs enough, you can besides visiting the wind-mill also visit three small museums nearby. One is located in the cobblestone street just in front of the Sint-Janshuismolen windmill, at your left when just entering the street named Rolweg nr.64: the Guido Gezelle museum, a famous Flemish poet, the museum has a beautiful tranquil garden. When you continue in de Rolweg until you reach the second street on your left: Rolweg 40: you find the Folklore museum where you find thematic reconstructions of old time interiors. When you take this street to your left: Balstraat, you will come upon the Jerusalem Chapel, Peperstraat: built in the 15th century according to the plans of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. It is a very charming and beautiful old church. A bit further in the Peperstraat 3, you find the third museum: Lace centre where you can see lace demonstrations every afternoon except on Sundays. If you continue in the Peperstraat and keep to the left at the fork, you pass a tranquil and tasteful children’s playground, and further on you end back up at the windmills. This is part of the tranquil Bruges walk. You walk through small cobblestone streets with typical houses, but far away from the masses.
Just one note: there are many trash cans located in the park, so please do not leave anything behind and keep our green areas clean!