I had never really known that Brussels was a city flourishing with markets. But then again, I had never really known London was either when I first moved here as a fresh-faced 18-year-old.
Visiting local markets is one of my most revered pastimes during trips away, be it food markets, antiques, flowers, you name it. During our #ParkInnExpress challenge (more to come on that soon), The Little Backpacker and I had been asked to locate a flea-market and oblivious to just how many markets come to life in Brussels at the weekend, we mistakenly ended up at a nearby antique market instead, spotting vintage maps, jewellery and crockery.
The Gare du Midi Market
The next morning on the tip-off of a local, we hopped over to the Gare du Midi market. I’m convinced you could purchase everything you would need for a weekly shop here – and more. With everything from clothes to shoes, flowers to fruits, this was very much a market for the locals. We couldn’t see many other tourists hovering and we sensed that cameras were not always welcome.
The Marolles Market
From here, we proceeded (a day late but who’s counting) to the nearby Marolles flea market. Set against the backdrop of beautiful brick buildings and barren wintery tree branches, this is another treasure trove for anyone with a love of kitsch brooches, ancient floral tea sets, ripe wooden furniture and even retro camera lenses. It is considered acceptable to haggle at this market and the tradesmen seem more relaxed here, many with their goods splayed out across the floor without the shelter of covered canopies, jovial in spirit, making the term, “lazy Sunday” a redundant entity.
The Place Jourdan Farmers’ Market
And if you still haven’t had your fix of weekend markets or if the hunger pangs are beckoning you to a food market, then head east towards the European Quarter to find the Place Jourdan Sunday Market. Head there early as it all starts to die down around 2pm but this is a haven for hungry foodies with vans and stands serving everything from rotisserie chicken to freshly-made Thai red curry, Moroccan-stuffed peppers to homemade Greek hummous. I even spotted an English Cornish pasty stall, which rather made me chuckle!
I also saw for the first time my favourite hot drink being made traditionally on the pan – a fresh Moroccan mint tea, made for once, the way it should be with the sparky spell of mint stretching for miles. So often in London, I see even expensive restaurants just sticking a mint leaf in a cup of boiling water and proclaiming that to be a fresh mint tea – it’s not.
The biggest draw at this market (proven by the 1 hour and 40 minute queue that Jodie from Little Backpacker endured) are the Frites in a cone from Maison Antoine, reportedly the best in Brussels. I had very much wanted to try out this renowned treat but unfortunately, I read in a guide book that they are fried in beef fat – the one and only food item I absolutely don’t eat. If the book was wrong, I shall cry at having missed out. And if it was right, then I think this ought to be better advertised and labelled so that vegetarians and others with specific dietary requirements are aware.
As I walked through the market, there was a progressive increase in the volume of my tummy rumbles and after spotting these goats cheese and honey stuffed parcels of indulgence, I succumbed to temptation. Do you see the gaping hole in the display below? That’s the one that ended up in my belly. I’d have liked it a tad warmer but the bitesize portion was just enough to replenish me after a morning of market mayhem.
Do you enjoy visiting markets? Which ones have stood out for you, at home or on your travels?
20 thoughts on “The Weekend Markets of Brussels”
These markets all sound amazing! I think they’re always the best part of travelling – finding the little markets and picking up a few treasures, far more meaningful souvenirs than the touristy crap!
You’re so right Jess – picking up souvenirs from places like that with a story and memory behind them is always so much nicer isn’t it?! So glad to hear you enjoy browsing markets as much as I do! Thanks so much for reading 🙂
I didn’t know Brussels had so many markets! Ps I am still in love with those crystal glasses! My favourite type of market other than a food one is a book market. xx
I didn’t know it either till this visit! I completely forgot about book markets – they are lovely too! Nothing like the smell and feel of old books! Thanks so much for reading Zoe 🙂 x
Great photos! I’ve always wanted to go to Brussels and now I really want to go!
Thanks so much Sophie! You should definitely go if you get a chance – I really hadn’t realised it was such a pretty city & so easy to get around! 🙂
Great shots here – this is like the Brussels of my dreams! 🙂
Aww thank you Tim! I never realised how much I would end up liking Brussels. A lovely place to explore on a weekend break 🙂
Oh those markets were so good, lovely photos too 🙂
Thanks Jodie! It was such a great day exploring all these markets – still can’t believe quite how much we managed to pack in that day 🙂
In a world of growing supermarket chain power it is always a delight to find authentic and value for money markets like these. I hope that you didn’t spend too much?
I like the snowflake effect on your website 🙂
Hehe, thanks! I have no idea how the snowflake effect appeared but I’m kind of liking it too 🙂 I completely agree about how nice it is to find a local authentic market compared to big chain stores – on this occasion, I managed to keep disciplined but usually, it’s in markets where the inner shopper in me comes out – I never really have an interest in shopping at any other time! Thanks so much for stopping by!
We love visiting markets when we travel too – so many interesting things to discover! Plus the people-watching is fun. Brussels is on our wish list (along with Bruges).
Bruges is absolutely on my wish list too Janice – I’ve heard it’s just charming! If I’d had more than a weekend in Belgium this time, I’d definitely have tried to make a trip to Bruges too! Thanks so much for reading 🙂