A day in Brussels • Brugmann & Chatelain
The funny thing about Brussels is that it has so many different areas, each with a distinct atmosphere. The Brugmann quarter, sometimes referred to as "Little Paris", is a peaceful and rich neighborhood with an almost village feeling to it. Whereas the Chatelain quarter is very lively and attracts many expats, making it a joyful place to hang out. Both flow into one another and both offer unique shopping venues and beautiful architecture, making them the perfect backdrop for an inspiring afternoon.
Lunch at Ici | Rue Darwin 35, Ixelles
Start your day with an excellent, healthy lunch or brunch at Ici. Their ever-changing menu is very veggie friendly and even detox oriented. No matter what you pick, you'll have the certain feeling you're eating something that will do you good. And it's really tasty! I love the interior decoration with the tiled floors and the hanging bulbs. According to the moment you're going, you'll have different choices: the plates displayed on the board are served during the week, on Saturday they have lunch specials and on Sunday it's brunch. Be sure to make a reservation as this place is very popular!
Shopping in Rue Darwin
Some very nice boutiques are concentrated in the Rue Darwin, stores that you won't find any place else. Bonnie et Jane (at nr 34) is a beautiful concept store with a bohemian chic atmosphere that offers womenswear, accessories, jewelry and vintage items. Another concept store is Lucia Esteves (Rue Franz Merjay 131), a place with a warm feeling where you can shop clothing, but also beautiful dishware and other decoration items. Whereas Vintage Items (at nr 33) is an interior design boutique known for its collection of vintage letters and other objects. And there are many more to discover.
Wander around the Place Georges Brugmann
The Place Georges Brugmann forms the heart of this quiet neighborhood and really has that Paris feeling with its gorgeous apartment buildings from the early 20th century. You'll also find some beautiful boutiques around here, such as Wouters & Hendrix (nr 16) and L'Antichambre (nr 13). Good to know is that most shops in the Brugmann Quarter are open on Sundays, which is quite exceptional in Brussels. To head towards the Chatelain Quarter afterwards, take the pedestrian alley in the middle of Avenue Louis Lepoutre. I'm sure you'll be charmed by its conker trees and Beaux-Arts apartment buildings.
Keep your eyes open for Art Nouveau
Although Brussels has many examples of Art Deco (as I mentioned in a previous post), it is mostly known for Art Nouveau and its star architect Victor Horta. Art Nouveau emerged around 1890 and is characterized by floral motifs, curved lines and stained-glass windows, as a sort of architectural translation of what you can see in nature. The house and studio of Victor Horta himself in the Rue Américaine is truly worth a visit to understand the full scope of this movement (open from 14:00 to 17:30, Sundays included). Pictures inside are prohibited so I can't show you any, but you can get a glimpse of the magnificent stairwell in the movie "The Danish Girl". And the Horta Museum is just one example of Art Nouveau, there are many more in this part of Brussels so don't forget to look around you.
Shopping and more in Rue du Page
In the Chatelain Quarter, Rue du Page is definitely my favorite one. For interior decoration from brands such as Hay, head to Homepage (nr 109). For the prettiest cupcakes, to eat there or take home with you, head to Lilicup (nr 65). And then there is Lulu Home Interior (nr 101), a place where I've been multiple times since discovering it because it combines two of my greatest loves: sweet hot beverages and Scandinavian design. The Café feels very cozy and they offer many delicious drinks, whereas the Store is a big space with plenty of interior decoration items that are Pinterest worthy. Should you be looking for a place for dinner, I'd definitely recommend La Quincaillerie located in the same street (nr 45).
And some more shopping around the Église de la Sainte-Trinité
After you had some coffee or tea at Lulu, you can go for a final round of shopping near the Église de la Sainte-Trinité. Mellow Concept Store (Rue du Bailli 100) is a cute boutique with womenswear and accessories from all around Europe, Belgium included. Rose (Rue de l'Aqueduc 56) is another concept store with funky items and a great collection of postcards, whereas Blue on the other side of the street is its counterpart for men. Finally, for the best coffee table books, head to Peinture Fraîche (Rue du Tabellion 10). Located inside a beautiful building, this library has one of the finest selection of art, architecture and photography books.
How to get there:
These neighborhoods aren't the easiest to reach by train, so you'll have to take the bus or the tram after your trip on the rails. If you go there by car, you'll have to look for a parking spot in the street and pay special attention to the parking rate. In some streets you can park for 2 hours for free with your disc, in others you have to pay around 2€/hour.