6 Replies Latest reply: Jan 2, 2013 6:11 PM by psudad RSS

Brussels -- Food, Art and Language

profchiara Alumni Steward Silver 3 Reviews
Currently Being Moderated

Hi all,

I've had a wonderful week in Brussels at the Marriott.  I stand by all my earlier comments.  I would also suggest if you have some free time take a new tour offered by BrusselsCityTours (which can be booked on your room = points).  It is called Hidden Treasures of Belgium and covers the Walloon area, which is not easy to get to unless you have a car.  The tour covered the Castle of Modave, Huy, Namur, and the amazing ruins of the Cistercian Abbey at Villers.  The tour guide was fantastic.  On the way back she added another stop -- at Waterloo.

 

A tip on language.  First of all, everyone speaks English in Belgium and the Netherlands -- they are required to take it most of their school years.  The French-speaking areas (Walloon and Brussels) are now outnumbered by Flemish-speaking parts of Belgium.  This is a reversal of what had been true for centuries, and it has led to rising tensions and calls by the Flemish for separatism.  If you speak French, do so and it will be much appreciated in Brussels (the only officially bilingual city in Belgium) and Walloon.  Otherwise speak English.  A colleague told me when he went to Leuven, he noticed the strong separatist feelings there.  As my tour guide said, people in Bruges and Ghent don't mind French speakers (because there are so many tourists), but it is better in any other Flemish area (e.g. Antwerp) to speak English unless you happen to be fluent in Flemish/Dutch!

 

The food in Brussels is, in my view, the best in the world -- or at least Europe, and that comes from someone who has lived for years in France.  However, I have noticed significant changes in the area around the Grand' Place with its restaurant streets.  In the 80s I had two of the best meals of my life there as a walk-in.  But the quality has gone down with a few exceptions, and the prices have gone up.  Plus it is very crowded.  I suggest walking 2 blocks in the opposite direction from the hotel and you'll be in Place Sainte-Catherine.  If you like seafood, this is the place to eat -- it's right next to the Fish Market, which brings in fresh fish every day.  I had three wonderful lunches at different restaurants there.  (What I typically do, since lunches are often less expensive than dinners, is to have a very nice lunch -- then in the evening enjoy the appetizers and desserts at the Marriott.).  I ate at La Maraichere, Rugby I (not a sports bar, despite the name), and La Huitriere.  The latter was by far the best among very good restaurants.  Just look for where most of the people are sitting in these side-by-side restaurants and you'll get a sense of which is best. I include photos of sole meuniere from Rugby and lobster in champagne sauce from Huitriere.

 

Finally, the Musee Royale des Beaux Arts is one of the best museums in the world.  It has a phenomenal collection of Flemish art from the late Middle Ages when Burgundy (which included much of Belgium and the Netherlands) had the richest court in Europe.  Usually, I don't spend much time in art museums because I'd rather see actual historical sites.  But I spent 4 hours here, most in the 'ancien' section. It includes the works of Rogier van der Weyden, Brueghel Younger and Elder, Hieronymus Bosch and many others. But they also have some great modern paintings, including Jacques-Louis David's Death of Marat as well as late 20th C. art.

 

I think it was Rick Steves who said in his Belgium guidebook that Brussels was 'short on sites but strong on ambience.'  I couldn't agree more.  It is a city that you really come to appreciate the more time you spend here.

ProfChiara

  • Re: Brussels -- Food, Art and Language
    jerrycoin Alumni Steward Platinum 60 Reviews
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    Professor,

     

    Thanks for sharing this with us!

     

    Having only traveled thru Brussels, I now would like to stop there, and  "Smell the roses"!.

     

    Keep us informed!

    (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

  • Re: Brussels -- Food, Art and Language
    theolejudge Gold 4 Reviews
    Currently Being Moderated

    ProfChiara:

    I am going to Brussels next year so keep your "Rick Steves" type reports coming in.  The food looked great!

    Bill

    (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

  • Re: Brussels -- Food, Art and Language
    newhiltonmembr Platinum 3 Reviews
    Currently Being Moderated

    Hi Professor,

     

    Yum, yum, yum!  Looking forward to trying the restaurants there! La Maraichere was already on my list!  Supposedly a renowned award winning seafood restaurant.  Did you see the downstairs room?  I understand that it is more rustic and charming than the classic upstairs room.  And, looks like I'll be adding La Huitriere to my already long list...I'll never get to half of those on my list.  LOL!!!

     

    And, thanks for the language tips... I speak no Flemish and very little French, so English it will be!

     

    I'm thinking of spending my last night in Namur or Dinant before my 11am flight.  I'll be driving up from Reims.

     

    Thanks again!  And, please post more pics!!!

    (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

  • Re: Brussels -- Food, Art and Language
    razorbackfan Alumni Steward Platinum 23 Reviews
    Currently Being Moderated

    Hi Professor,

    I wish we had been in Brussels at the same time!  We were very pleased with the Brussels Marriott and our bird's eye view; however, all I remember eating is chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate!

    (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

  • Re: Brussels -- Food, Art and Language
    profchiara Alumni Steward Silver 3 Reviews
    Currently Being Moderated

    I just want to add -- since I've frequently had a problem with missing points -- that the Brussels Marriotts posted my points and nights less than 24 hours after I checked out.  A class act hotel in every way!
    ProfChiara

    (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

    • Re: Brussels -- Food, Art and Language
      psudad Alumni Steward Gold 3 Reviews
      Currently Being Moderated

      Thanks for the great Brussels info.  Will be there for about two days and two nights (Brussels Marriott), following five nights at the Ghent Marriott, with day trips to Bruges and Antwerp.  If you have similar suggestions for the other cities, I'm all ears.

       

      thanks again.

      (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

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