weekend away - Brussels
Written by Libby Banks
This Franco-Flemish heart of Europe is a melting pot of historic buildings, world-class gastronomy, fine art galleries, antique shops, and cosmopolitan boutiques.
Brusselsmay not shout as loud as fellow European cities Paris and London, but this compact city boasts a sophisticated charm that makes it the perfect destination for a weekend break.
Brussels is regarded as one of the finest gastronomic destinations in all Europe, and this makes it virtually impossible to eat badly in the city. Specialisms include waffles, chocolate and moules frites, and the city is dotted with excellent brasseries and cute cafés. For something really special try Comme Chez Soi, a two-Michelin-starred establishment that has been serving the city’s well-heeled foodies since 1926.
Sublime architecture greets visitors at every turn, and spans everything from medieval constructions to the organic curves of the Art Nouveau period and the hyper-modern buildings of the European Union.
Start at the jaw-dropping Grand Place, one of the greatest squares of Europe thanks to its magnificent guild houses. The ornate buildings date back to the 10th century and the square is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Then head to the nearby Sablon district with its art galleries and antique shops. Avenue Louise and Boulevard de Waterloo are lined with designer boutiques, or head to the Royal St-Hubert Galleries for one of Europe’s most elegant indoor-shopping experiences.
Pierre Marcolini refers to itself as an haute chocolaterie, and with good reason. Known as one of the greatest chocolatiers in the world, this place turns confectionery into an art form.
Before you go
To get into the mood, read Charlotte Brontë’s Villette. The novel’s fictional setting is based on the author’s trip to Brussels.