I know what you’re thinking: some French girl again! Yes, it’s no secret that there are many French people in the Belgian capital. However, if you still accept me as I am, I can share with you my five-month experience as an intern for Airplane Mode in the cultural and beautiful city that is Brussels. And maybe I’ll be able to make you see that despite this incessant rain (seriously, when is it going to stop? How are you guys enduring it all year?), Brussels is full of treasures that the rain will never drown.
If we begin with the basics, what I’m going to talk about first should be obvious: Grand Place. Even if is the city’s most touristic spot, you can’t imagine the effect it has on you the first time you see it. It’s like you cross a street, you turn a corner, and then you are in another time. Nowadays with the Christmas market, the place is even more amazing. (If you want more details about all the markets these days in Brussels, go take a look at this article). Also, the city often offers you free concerts (last year Lost Frequencies was there, and on the 19th of December this year, Petit Biscuit set the place on fire).
If we were to talk about precise spots, one place I liked was the Traditional Brussels’ puppet theatre, the Théâtre royal de Toone. Located near Grand Place, you can drink good beers while enjoying puppet shows in this unique bar.
When I think about it, there are so many cool places to drink beers, such as Le Corbeau where you can dance on tables starting from 11pm, but even if beers are clearly part of the culture here, maybe that’s not the point of my article. Shame.
Moving on, if I had to name a street that I will remember for sure in terms of arts, it would be rue Haute. There, you can find a series of creator’ shops, art galleries and so on. Maybe you’ll also stumble upon unique exhibitions, as it happened to me one day. Indeed, I came across one about an erotic parodic Tintin comic. The book cover was printed in huge and exposed to the street. Seeing the people’s reactions was priceless.
Speaking of comics, I cannot skip on the numerous murals hidden everywhere in the city. Such a great idea. You’re just strolling around the streets and you come across huge wall paintings of your favourite comics’ characters. A friend and I went on a search for them, guided by our faithful Routard as the good French tourists we were. It’s also a good way to discover less touristic parts of the town.
As it is, you can find lots of things just by walking around the town. But if you’re waiting for the good plans out to come to you, you’re going to wait for a long time here. Something I saw in Brussels is that there is something to do every day. However, you have to know the right people, or to follow the right websites and Facebook pages to stay informed. That’s how I discovered the Recyclart, a bar and club where you can also find exhibitions (the first time I went there, it was stands about Bretagne in France, there were some selling crêpes). I was also dragged to the Bozar for a conference about Africa by a colleague. This center always has things going on. And for less well-known spots, my flatmates once brought me to a very cool jazz bar, near Fernand Coq, called Sounds. Perfect place to have a drink while enjoying the small concert. But again, not the point.
Others obvious cultural spots are the museums. There are just so many, I could only visit a few. The Magritte Museum, if you like surrealism; the Musical Instruments Museum, with its incredible rooftop that offers you a full view of the city; the Hergé Musem, for Tintin’s fans; and of course the Belgian Comic Strip Center, because comics are such a big part of Brussels’ identity (and I, as a big comic lover could not miss on this).
Anyway, there are just too many things to do and see here, I’m sure I forgot or missed on a lot. What’s certain is that this city is full of cultural initiatives, always moving and daring. I love it. But now, it’s time for me to go home. Well, so long, Brussels!