Place du Jeu de Balle in the Marolles district is the venue for a daily flea market, where all manner of things are laid out, only some of which might be useful. That doesn’t matter. It’s just fun to wander around and you’ll enjoy the contrast if you’re fresh from perusing antiques and chocolate shops in the moneyed, if dull, Place du Grand Sablon. Just remember that if you do buy something, you should expect to negotiate!
In the streets surrounding the square old men play cards, and everyone else walks without purpose or lingers on terraces. Have a look inside some of the retro emporiums on rue Haute or rue Blaes, groaning under the weight of the furniture, paintings and pistols piled on top of one another, and flinch at some of the prices. There’s a similar feel in Modes, stuffed claustrophobically full with vintage clothes. Then have a drink at La Brocante, on the corner of the square, before heading up to browse in the bead and silver jewellery shops (Atchoum and Dominique Polain) on the rue des renards, and finally finish off the promenade with your choice of a beery Belgian stew at Restobières – or a wholesome brunch at Het Warm Water, across the road.
Rue des Renards/Vossenstraat 32, 1000, Bruxelles
+32(0)2 502 72 51
Google map: bit.ly/jh6RTY
Het Warm Water
25, Rue des Renards, 1000 Bruxelles
+32(0)2 513 91 59
Google map: bit.ly/mmPTtq
Rue des Renards, 20, 1000 Bruxelles
+32(0)2 514 3811
Google map: bit.ly/jZFEYS
Bijoux Dominique Polain
Rue des renards/Vossenstraat 26, 1000 Bruxelles
+32(0)25 13 53 74
Google map: bit.ly/ltmmJN
Café La Brocante
170 rue Blaes/Blaesstraat 170, 1000 Bruxelles
Google map: bit.ly/jSzZCX
Rue Blaes/Blaesstraat 164, 1000 Bruxelles
+32(0)2 512 49 07
Google map: bit.ly/jHalsv
Practice your French and hone your ability to out-barter even the most masterly merchant in Europe, at the flea market on Place du Jeu de Balle.
Pick up a priceless rarity you never knew you needed, meet the locals and exhaust your euros surrounded by classic Belgian architecture, the shouts of stallholders and a unique, animated atmosphere.
Of course, when you can haggle no more, you can collapse at a local café with a glass of red and some sumptuous Belgian food.
Brussels is a great place to go in the run-up to Christmas. It has a traditional Christmas market where you can shop for unusual craft gifts and stocking fillers while filling up on their special pancakes and gluhwein!
Then make sure to head for the fun fair, which has fabulous antique merry-go-rounds with weird and wonderful moving creatures to ride on. Also, there is a great flea market where you can still manage to pick up superb retro furniture at reasonable prices; just plan ahead on how to get them on the Eurostar.
Ooh, and take warm gloves, hat, scarf and coat because it is super chilly in December - but at least it makes you feel Christmassy!
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