If you have a taste for kitsch, then you shouldn’t leave without buying your very own Manneken Pis (peeing boy) souvenir from one of the many touristy shops fanning out from the gregarious Grand’ Place. You can also buy mounds of white Belgian lace and Tintin tales by Belgian writer Hergé. But the one shop not to miss is Dandoy – a spicy scented patisserie selling traditional speculoos biscuits. They’re ginger coloured, wafer thin, crunchy and come in cute little painted metal boxes. Good gifts, if you can avoid munching your way through them yourself. Another thing worth knowing about the Grand’ Place shops is that they stay open really late – until around 9pm.
Go traditional at formal Aux Armes de Bruxelles (13 Rue des Bouchers, +32 (0) 2 511 55 50), relaxed at Chez Vincent brasserie (8-10 rue des Dominicains) or splash out at three-Michelin starred Comme Chez Soi (23 Place Rouppe, +32 (0) 2 512 29 21).
Brussels’ winding little streets scatter the Grand’ Place tourists. Goupil le Fol (22 rue de la Violette) is a haven of French nostalgia, cluttered with old records, fading prints and paraphernalia. A la Mort Subite (Sudden Death), at 7 rue des Montagnes aux Herbes Potagères, an Art Nouveau interior is the setting for more nostalgia and Belgian Gueuzebeer to sample along with garlicy saucisson. Live jazz wafts out from Music Village (50 rue des Pierres) and funky beats from Le You club (18 rue Duquesnoy).