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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.
Bruges has many beautiful spots to have a picnic or a rest. In the middle of the city, close to the fish market, you find the Astridpark, with a small lake in the middle, many benches if the grass is wet, and a small kiosk if it should rain. The park is a green lung in the centre (the locals call it “De botanieken hof” (the botanical garden) at the Minderbroederstraat and the Schaarstraat .
The park is very romantic, with swans on the lake and beautiful big trees. During summer the city organizes some small festivals in the park like the Red Rock Rally (starting on May first), Vama Veche festival (first week of August) and Klinkers (last week of July, first week of August). At one end of the park is a white building where a radio station is located run by youngsters from Bruges. The radio station is named Villa Bota, and is an internet radio. If you have children, there is a nice playground in the park with wooden play-toys.
Since it is so close to the centre, it is easy to combine it with a visit to the Market place, the Burg and the fish market, the three central squares. Although you find many stores in the centre, there are actually three smaller local shops at one side of the park where you can find all your necessities for a great picnic.
At the south side of the park you find the Magdalena church, also worth a short visit, and on the intersection in front of the entrance of the church, you find an bakery, an butcher and a vegetable and fruit shop. All three shops are of high quality and well known to the locals. All three shops close on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday, but are open on Sundays. The bakery (Schaeverbeke), sells great breakfast rolls, cookies and pastries, next to a great range of specialty breads. They also sell scooped ice cream if you are looking for a dessert. On the other corner you find “Jan en Lucrece” (the names of the owners), a shop that sells vegetables and fruits, one of the best in the city. You also find fruit juices, ready made salads, fruit salads, sliced cheese, butter, yoghurt… On the third corner is a butcher (Maertens) where you find cold meats to put on bread, ready made dishes (if you stay in an appartment, you can buy a dish to reheat), grilled chicken, filled French bread, pancakes.. This triangle is sometimes called the golden triangle by locals in Bruges, because of the popularity of the shops. On a Sunday you will often have to stand in line in all three shops.
On one side of the park; if you look towards the kiosk and the church, there is a very beautiful building on the left side of the park with a wooden façade (house Verhaeghe), really worth a look.
Before or after your picnic you can visit the Fish Market (1820) where they still sell fresh fish and seafood every day from Tuesday till Saturday from 06.00 am to 01.00 pm. Connected by a bridge and the Blinde Ezelstraat (look up when you walk through) you walk to the Burg with many beautiful historical buildings: City Hall (1376-1420), the famous Basilica of the holy blood (1139-1149), country house of the “Brugse Vrije” (1520-25/1722-27), all beautiful restored baroque buildings. Through the Breidelstraat you reach the Market or main square. Here you can visit the Belfry and the Halles.
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!