We all have heard of mussels from Brussels but actually tasting this delectable delicacy is an indescribable experience in itself. Visit Chez Leon nestled in a tony lane bustling with tourists and glimmering city lights. They call this cobbled city — ‘a paradise for epicureans’. The city’s chefs specialise in traditional Flemish dishes without a shadow of doubt but they also tease your taste buds with their unique take on fusion and “slow food” dishes not to forget the legendary
As we all know this iconic European city is the artistic laboratory which gave birth to many legendary comic strip characters including Tintin, Spirou, Gaston Lagaffe, Marsupilami, Blake and Mortimer, Boule and Bill, Lucky Luke and the Smurfs. Their surreal depictions in the form of larger than life-size on the walls of buildings, the rendition of their stories in museums is just out of the world. These iconic comic characters are splashed all over the façade of the city and they also make their lilting presence felt in an array of books sold every day in a host of shops dedicated to them. They are even used to decorate restaurants and hotel bedrooms so in Brussels one can live, eat and sleep comic strips.
A Cathedral in Brussels
Don’t miss the comic fest and balloon parade!
Brussels’ men and women take great pride in celebrating their cartoon heroes. To celebrate the success and popularity of comic stars like The Smurfs and Tintin a panoply of intriguing programmes are hosted which include Kids’ Village and the Comic Strip Festival on the Place de Palais and the Balloons Day Parade. Feast your eyes on gentle inflated giants parading to the music of live bands along the city’s famed boulevards. I was blown away by the digital depiction of Tintin’s iconic history on the palace façade which was accompanied by spectacular fireworks and the energy of the enthusiastic crowd gathered was infectious, to say the least.
The Grand Place
The buildings are a mixture of styles over the centuries: Gothic, Baroque, Neo-Classical and Neo-Gothic but their proportions are perfect and they are in wonderful harmony with each other.
The square was originally a market and the surrounding buildings began to take shape in the fifteenth century but all were destroyed in an artillery bombardment in 1965. The Town Hall has been the seat of the city’s government since 1402 and today the city council still meets here every week and the mayor and the alderman have their offices here.
The Tintin trail
Herge, who created the boy reporter, often laid false trails and played with the names of streets, countries and characters, but most people who live in Brussels can easily decipher his allusions, puns and other word games to work out where the action in the albums set in Brussels is really taking place. His settings include the Royal Palace, cafes, theatres, museums and parks: there is no doubt that he was inspired by his own surroundings when he created the boy he would send on reporting assignments all over the world.
This cheeky little boy, who stands naked at a street corner, is the best known inhabitant of Brussels in the world. According to legend, this mini-hero extinguished the fuse of a bomb by peeing on it. This scallywag is normally naked, but he does own a star’s wardrobe of more than 800 different outfits in which he is dressed for festivals and official visits. The statute is on the corner of the Rue de I’Etuve and the Rue du Chene – his costumes are on display to the public in the City of Brussels Museum in the Maison du Roi opposite the Town Hall on the Grand Place.
Musee Magritte Museum
In this building where clouds float in the windows are displayed the most beautiful works by the most famous of the Brussels Surrealists. Indeed the place is dreamy and spontaneous like the artist, who makes us dream while awake. Enter the world of an artist who wanted the effect caused by his work to touch you before work itself.
Half-an-hour drive from Brussels, the museum dedicated to the work of Georges, Remi, known as ‘Herge’, the creator of Tintin, is an artisanal hemisphere. The building’s architecture is daring, its lines surprising and inside are spaces designed to show Herge’s drawings at their best, along with archive documents, models and other rare and precious exhibits that played a part in the creation of the comic albums that have made us all dream so much.
BOZAR Centre for Fine Arts
The Brussels Centre for Fine Arts, recently renamed BOZAR, is the main pluri-cultural and multi-cultural centre in Brussels. The building was designed by Victor Horta in a subtle blend of the Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles, and today hosts the largest cultural events in the city including theatre, dance, films, conferences, festivals and all sorts of musical performances and concerts of Classical, World and Electronic music.