Brussels is not a city where you’ll find shopping bargains. It’s expensive—certainly as expensive as Paris, and more so than Amsterdam. As a general rule, the upper city around avenue Louise and Porte de Namur is more expensive than the lower city around rue Neuve and the center-city shopping galleries around La Monnaie and place de Brouckère. But that’s not hard and fast; rue Haute in the upper city is currently inexpensive, although as more and more design and antiques stores open, this will cease to be the case. The Galeries Royales St-Hubert, in the lower city, are wildly expensive.
The Bruxellois know a thing or two about chocolate. So addictive are their confections that they should be sold with a government health warning. Just ask anyone who has ever bitten into one of those devilish little handmade pralines made by Wittamer . You’ll find some of the finest confections at Mary ; Nihoul, chaussée de Vleurgat 111 (tel 02/648-3796; www.nihoul.be); Neuhaus ; Léonidas, place du Grand Sablon 41 (tel 02/513-1466; www.leonidas.com); and . . . well, it’s a long list. Many branches of the city’s best chocolatiers are congregated at place du Grand Sablon and the Galeries Royales de St-Hubert.
Lace is another favorite that’s widely available in the city, particularly around the Grand-Place. Purchase from Maison Antoine (Grand-Place 26; tel 02/512-4859) or Manufacture Belge de Dentelle .
For local beers such as gueuze, kriek, and faro—among the 450 or so different Belgian beers—head for the Musée Bruxellois de la Gueuze or Beer Mania . Both can ship beer overseas. Also check out the aisles in local supermarkets, where you’ll find a great choice of beers at decent prices, too.
Rue Neuve, which starts at place de la Monnaie and extends north to place Rogier in the lower city, is a busy and popular area that’s home to many boutiques and department stores, including the City 2 shopping complex. Boulevard Anspach, which runs from the Stock Exchange up to place de Brouckère, offers mid-range fashion boutiques and electronic-appliance stores, plus the Anspach Center mall.
Avenue Louise and boulevard de Waterloo in the upper city attract those in search of world-renowned, high-quality goods from Cartier, Burberry’s, Louis Vuitton, and Valentino. The place du Grand Sablon is natural home of snooty antiques shops and expensive galleries, while trendsters hit edgy rue Antoine Dansaert for small, independent boutiques and contemporary designers.
Brussels Shop Opening Hours
Stores normally open from 9 or 10am to 6pm Monday to Saturday. On Friday evening, many center-city stores stay open until 8 or 9pm. Most stores close on Sunday, except the tourist-orientated ones around the Grand-Place, and out of the center even the supermarkets operate limited Sunday opening hours.
Brussels’s Oldest Shopping Mall
One of Europe’s oldest shopping malls consists of the three interconnected, glass-roofed arcades of the Galeries Royales St-Hubert (www.galeries-saint-hubert.com). Constructed in Italian neo-Renaissance style and opened in 1847, architect Pierre Cluysenaer’s elegant galleries are light and airy, hosting top-end boutiques Delvaux, Oriande, Manufacture Belge des Dentelles , Longchamp, numerous chocolate shops (Godiva, Neuhaus, Léonidas), sidewalk cafes, and street musicians playing classical music. The Galerie du Roi, Galerie de la Reine, and Galerie des Princes were the forerunners of city malls like Burlington Arcade in London, and lie just north of the Grand-Place, between rue du Marché aux Herbes and rue d’Arenberg.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.