In Brussels the rich and the poor literally live next to each other. The high brow shops are just meters away from the flea markets. The area between the expensive Zavel (or ‘Sablon’ in French) and the popular down to earth ‘Vossenplein’ (‘Place du Jeu de Balle’ in French) is my favourite area in Brussels. The ‘Hoogstraat’ is literally, like upstairs – downstairs, higher up than the ‘Blaesstraat’. These two parallel streets run between the ‘Zavel’ and the ‘Vossenplein’ in the ‘Marollen’.
If you come by car, you might find a parking spot on the ‘Paleizenplein’ where our monarch works or take the metro to the stop ‘Parc’, in the ‘Warandepark’. Start your walk here and cross the ‘Koningsplein’ bordered by all the main museums, to the ‘Zavel’. The church ‘Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-ter-Zavelkerk’ stands between the small ‘Kleine Zavel’ and the larger ‘Grote Zavel’. If you are someone who thinks famous brands are important, stay on the Zavel. Here you will find ‘Wittamer‘, ‘Godiva‘, ‘Neuhaus‘, ‘Maison Dandoy‘, ‘Pierre Marcolini‘, ‘Davidoff‘, ‘Jean Paul Knott‘ and ‘TASCHEN Store‘, all close together for your choice of gift to impress.
On my last visit I discovered a small shop next to the (expensive) cookie store Dandoy; ‘Moon‘. Dana designs handbags and clutches with detachable, changeable faces. You can buy one bag and adapt it to your look by changing the front. She also sells t-shirt you can customize by applying Velcro shapes to a front circle. Original and cute!
If you are hungry, go down the Joseph Stevensstraat in the direction of the Kapellenmarkt. Here you can either have a full Belgian classic menu in the ‘Skievelat Sablon‘ or an original quick sandwich Belgian style in ‘Pistolet Original‘. The sandwich is served on the typical Belgian ‘pistolet’, a little round bread roll only found in our small country.
From the Kapellenmarkt starts your adventurous walk, zig zagging in and out of ‘brocante’ stores, ‘second hand’ and ‘vintage’clothes shops, interior design shops, furniture shops selling new or used furniture, original gift stores, a shop with ‘wooden toys’ or one selling hats. Do not forget the little Vossenstraat that connects both streets just before the ‘Vossenplein’. Here you find ‘Foxhole‘ famous for vintage clothes, ‘Oxfam for men‘ second hand men clothes, ‘Atchoum‘ a button walhalla, ‘Heyday‘ for funky presents, and if you get hungry, stop for a fair, organic and vegetarian lunch at ‘L’Eau chaude, Het werm woeter‘.
At the end of both streets you come onto the flea market of the ‘Vossenplein’. Be sure to come before lunch because the flea market sellers clean up around 1 PM every day. (Market runs every day from 7 AM to 2 PM and on Saturday and Sunday from 7 AM to 3 PM). If you first visit the flea market you can use the rest of the afternoon discovering the ‘Hoogstraat’ and ‘Blaesstraat’.
In the ‘Hoogstraat’ you find ‘Idiz Bogam‘, the famous oldtime vintagestore, ‘Melting Pot Kilo‘, vintage clothes selling per kilo, ‘Oxfam‘ (Spullenhulp, Les petits riens) a fair trade shop selling clothes, the concept store ‘L’atelier En Ville‘, ‘Café Capitale‘ for freshly roasted coffee beans, ‘Momentum deco & furniture‘ for teak furniture, ‘New De Wolf‘ for interior decoration, ‘La vaisselle au kilo‘ for cheap tableware, ‘Meublia‘, ‘Dokidoc‘ and ‘After Vintage‘ for furniture and lightning, ‘Bombay-Pékin‘ for Asian style furniture, ‘Popeye et Momeye‘, ‘Concepto‘ and ‘Terre sauvage‘ for vintage items and clothes, ‘S En Ciel‘ for hats and leather bags, gloves and belts. There is also an auction house in the ‘Hoogstraat’: ‘Salle de ventes du Beguinage‘, where they auction of all kinds of items from furniture, over antiques to art and decoration. Sales are on Tuesdays.
In de ‘Blaesstraat’ you find ‘Les Mémoires De Jacqmotte‘ for furniture and lightning, ‘ATAT store‘ for original home decoration, ‘Au bon repos‘ six floors filled with furniture, ‘Le Volle Blaes‘, ‘Via Antica‘ and ‘Stef Antiek‘ for antiques, ‘Ambiance Lumiere‘ and ‘l’Etoile Verte’ for lamps and lightning, ‘Au coin vert‘ and ‘A l’Esperance‘ for curtains and home furnishings, ‘Only good deals, good deals in shoes, ‘Apostrophe‘, ‘Big Nose‘, ‘Joevin Ortjens‘ and ‘Dplus‘ for specialized furniture, ‘Repérages‘, ‘Arka Gallery’ and ‘Gaïa’, for new and second hand clothes, ‘Superstrat‘ for design, ‘La Droguerie Boissellerie du Comptoir’ and ‘Envie de Bois‘ for wooden furniture, wooden toys and repairs, ‘Belge une fois‘ a concept store for Belgian designers, ‘Les savons de Lyna‘ for Marseille soaps and cosmetics, ‘Baden Baden‘ made-to-measure wooden furniture, ‘Fashion vintage‘ and ‘DADA vintage‘ for vintage clothes.
In one of the side-streets, Rue Des Capucins 26, a huge vintage – second hand store just opened; l’annexe du ‘Les meubles du coeur’. The store is run by the organisation ‘Les Meubles du coeur‘, whom, by re-using en restoring furniture others throw away, want to help the poorest furnish their houses. They offer selling spots to people cleaning out their wardrobes or attic. You find second hand clothes and lovely vintage and up-cycled furniture. They regularly organise events, show art works and there is a little in-house bar where you can have a drink. Nice place to shop, while supporting a great new initiative in Brussels.
The area of the Hoogstraat, the Blaesstraat and its side streets are also great for spotting mural cartoons. (Spirou, Peyo, Leonard, Blondin & Cirage, )
If yo want a drink or a bite to eat, the cheapest and most authentic places are on the ‘Vossenplein’ around the flea market. There is always a lot of atmosphere inside in winter and outside in summer in the many small bars and cafés. ‘Volle Brol’ has a nice old fashioned interior, ‘Brasserie La Clef D’or‘ or ‘Brasserie Le Chineur’ are great for a simple croque with flea market ambiance, ‘Chaff‘ for a more upmarket plate of food and live music in the evenings, ‘La Brocante‘ for a good beer and a bite and live music on Sundays (opens very early in the morning).
‘La sardine du Marseillais‘ is great for a take away sandwich, just around the corner from the Vossenplein in the Blaesstraat. ‘L’Aubette‘ is a new lunchplace in town where you can choose between a grilled potato dish, a salad or a quiche.
Other eateries in the area: ‘Les Vignes du Liban‘ authentic high quality Lebanese food in de Hoogstraat, ‘Pin Pon‘ bar restaurant on the Vossenplein in an old fire station, ‘Le Wine Bar des Marolles‘ bistro and wine bar in the ‘Hoogstraat and ‘L’idiot du village‘ between the Hoogstraat and Blaesstraat.
Other interesting places to discover: ‘Bikkenek‘ a hip design it yourself bike shop, ‘House of Wunders‘ where you find crystals, fossils and furniture from recycled wood, and ‘Jeu de Bulles‘ where you find cartoon collectors items. (think Tintin…), all three on the ‘Vossenplein’.