Art ,Souvenir and Food Shops, Brugge
One of the fun shopping things to do was "Window Shop" and Brugge does it best with their selections of hand-made chocolates, moulded marzipan fruits, delicate hand-made lace and my favourite HAND-MADE DOLLS. This one shop caught my eye so I had to take a picture of it.
You tend to eat very well in Belgium. That's how I've always experienced it. And restaurant prices are a little lower than in The Netherlands, where I live. But sometimes you don't want to go to a restaurant and you don't want to cook either. The delicatessen is a perfect solution! All sorts of goodies to feast the eye and palate on.
I didn't purchase anything at this shop, but I loved their window treatment. They carried a large selection of dolls, souvenirs, and of course the lace they are so famous for.
What to buy: Reminders of Bruge, dolls and of course lace.
I bought about three pairs of shoes from this store. The attendants were very friendly, and they sell beautiful and solid shoes. If you noticed my tips on the restaurants, it is from the lady in this pics that I asked for the best restaurant for dinner, and she recommended that beautiful resto for me!
What a shop!!!
The historic centre of Brugge is packed with very touristy shops. If you need to bring home a selection of Belgian beers for someone, there's plenty of choice, even if you want to buy it by the bottle in a nice looking tin cone or cardboard package with a matching glass inside. It is customary in Belgium to pour our "noble" beers in not just any type of beer glass, but only in the one intended for that beer. Oh yes, we are picky when it comes to food and drink :)
What to buy: Selections of Belgian beers, mostly the more "exclusive" abbey beers. I'll do a separate section about Belgian Beer in the "local customs" tips.
What to pay: Compared to supermarket prices for the same beers in sixpacks : top Dollar. This is the most touristy place in Belgium.
I did not stop in any lace stores, I really just wasn't interested in buying any, but should you be, Brugge is the place to look for it. The guidebooks say that it's mostly machine made but that you can find high quality handmade lace here but expect to pay for it.
The Bottle Shop (not to be confused with the Body Shop) was the other shop we really enjoyed in Bruges. This was probably due to the fact that I've never before seen a shop of this type. But in a country with more than 700 types of beer I think it's a really good idea. Beer is not as easy an item to bring home as chocolate or lace but the Bottle Store makes it possible.
What to buy: Whatever your favourite beer you can buy a gift pack with one or two bottles and one or two glasses with the name of the selected beer. This is a nice way to bring home a gift that is a little taste of Belgium.
What to pay: Depending on what you buy these souvenirs can be purchased quite reasonably.
Shopping in Bruges proper can be a crowded experience at best but once out of the center there are lots of little shops to buy souvenirs as well as something to drink after the long walk out there.
What to buy: I hope this little place doesn’t subside on felling film as the VT contingent was quite content to view their digital masterpieces just outside.
Far more interesting - and fun to look at, at least in my opinion - are the shop windows of the many antique and local crafts stores, of which you'll find just as many. Some are a tad corny, some display wonderful pieces. But none are really lame, unlike so many other touristy places that have thousands of shops selling keychains, mugs and all sorts of plastic crap.
What to buy: There's lots of lace-related products, I've seen beautiful little hand-painted tiles (depicting a.o. city scenes) go for reasonable prices (around 20 Euros). Some beautiful toys and figurines as well. Needless to say, the handmade tapestries and large dolls will break the bank unless you're a Japanese CEO on a weekend trip to Europe.
What to pay: Again, while some items may be affordable, this is a touritsty place, often with prices to match - so shop around and try the less busy areas.
I stumbled across this little shop the last morning that I was in Brugge...I had just come from a visit to the Church of our Lady and it was still raining outside....I walked along Mariastraat and noticed this little shop that looked so inviting...it was dry inside after all...
Its a tiny spot with a collection of mostly Flemish Masters available for purchase....wonderful works of art...
Even if you're not in a buying mood this little shop provides a glimpse of Flemish art that is available to purchase by anybody that can afford it...
What to buy: If you have any interest in Flemish paintings from the 1600,s and you might have a few thousand Euros at your disposal....this is the place for you...
What to pay: Far more than my bank account would allow...and besides ...Id have to change the lighting in my living room to show them properly... : O ]
Today, two main techniques are practiced in the Flemish provinces. The first, a needle lace, called Renaissance or Brussels lace, is still manufactured. The second type, the Bobbin Lace, is a speciality of Bruges. This is a very expensive type of lace to make and is therefore no longer manufactured for commercial purposes.
Lacemaking is an industry, but do not expect to find lace "factories". These days the problem is that there are so few women left in Bruges willing to spend the time to make these delicate artworks and much of what you find here and elsewhere in Belgium is imported and produced by machine in Hong Kong. However, fine machine embroidery is also a complex craft, not to be underrated.
What to buy: If you are interested in refined, exclusive home decoration you must visit the Lace Gallery.
Here you can find a wide selection of handmade belgian lace, cushion covers, tablecloths, and tapestry handbags.
The shop is dealing also with the reproduction of the famous flemish tapestries from museums.
What to pay: If you want to buy proper, hand-made Belgian lace, insist on a label of authenticity, and expect to pay a high price.
The cost of a rectangular tablecloth can range from $400 to the border of the starry sky! It is no wonder, since to make a tablecloth for 12 takes the needlewoman more than three years.
For shoppers on a smaller budget little lace collars cost $30 - 40, or small embroidered bags between $10 - 20.
In Bruges the main shopping street is Steenstraat, off the Markt which has everything you would expect in the way of shops catering to everday needs.
What to buy: Antiques: These are plentiful in both Bruges and Ghent and are normally situated in the narrow side streets off the main shopping areas.
Beer: This is a must buy for connoisseurs, with many brands on sale that are simply not available at home. The range is vast so its best to stick to those you have tried and tested rather than risk being disappointed by an uknown.
Chocolate: Made in Belgium, undoubtedly the best in the world. I would go for the classic, exquisite, handmade Belgian pralines and truffles. Selection boxes (tin ones) are great for getting them home without them melting in your bags.
What to pay: Tax free shopping is available in stores that display the appropriate notice. Usually the larger or more expensive stores. If you are not sure then ask in the shop itself.
Each Wednesday morning the Markt is lined with food vendors. Had we not just eaten a huge breakfast at the hotel we would have picked up a fresh rotiseree chicken, bread, cheese, and a plethora of ripened fruits.
Ok, the chocolate in Brugge is great, but as an LA girl, I have to say that the SHOES are more fashion-forward in Belgium compared to the USA. I like the styles in Belgium even better than Paris!
What to buy: Any shoes! I prefer boots. :)
What to pay: 100-200 Euros for the good stuff and you won't regret it.
As well as being able to stock up on some fantstic luxury chocolates the citys main treasured product is beer, one restaurant offers over 100 types of beer on it's menu but only two types of wine, red or white.
As well as chocolate and beer the Grotemarkt and Vismarkt markets offer a wide and wonderful array of local food, wines and other lovely delicacies.
Lace is another great product that is produced localy as well as the worl famous Flemmish Tapastries. There are many shops which specalise in these as well as the normal tourist shops were you can pick up some great examples as well as fridge magnets, badges, models of the belfort and houses ect.