Local traditions and culture in Brussels

  • Frites home made.
    Frites home made.
    by breughel
  • Moules in my dish.
    Moules in my dish.
    by breughel
  • Chocolate - Brussels
    Chocolate - Brussels
    by solopes

Most Viewed Local Customs in Brussels

  • Maurizioago's Profile Photo

    Everard' t Serclaes.

    by Maurizioago Updated Mar 1, 2015

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    Everard' t Serclaes was a local hero who freed the city from the Counts of Flanders in 1354.

    You can find the statue of this hero dying to the left of the town hall. Touching the arm of the statue is said to bring you good luck.

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    Poems on the walls

    by Nemorino Updated May 1, 2014

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    While cycling around Brussels I came across poems on the walls in several parts of the city.

    This one is in several languages, and includes the message: "Life is illegal."

    Thanks to VT member kris-t for translating the Russian words in this wall poem: "Air that was stolen by lungs not certified. Life is illegal."

    Second photo: You can also see elaborate wall paintings in several Brussels neighborhoods.

    1. Wall poem 2. Wall painting
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    A Bridge Between Two Worlds

    by Nemorino Updated May 1, 2014

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    In Brussels there are said to be at least 1500 homeless people.

    I noticed this one particularly because he was sleeping at the front entrance of the opera house, perhaps one meter to the right of the front door, just as opera goers were starting to arrive for the premiere of Massenet's Werther.

    That sleeping bag looks very thin for a cold December night, and those flimsy pieces of cardboard underneath are certainly not providing much insulation. His belongings are in a couple of backpacks and a plastic shopping bag by his head, and his dog is curled up on a jacket beside him.

    Some other night you might conceivably find this same man sitting next to you in the opera house, because the Brussels opera has a program called Un Pont entre Deux Mondes / Een brug tussen twee werelden, meaning A Bridge Between Two Worlds. The main aim of this program is "to make culture, music and opera accessible to an underprivileged public."

    Among other partners, they work together with an organization called Jamais Sans Toit (JST), meaning "Never Without a Roof", which tries to "fill the gap between the rich and the poor people" and let the poor "be a part of society, by letting them go to concerts and museums” -- and to the opera, where they get (free) places in the front rows or on the first balcony, among the other visitors.

    Website: http://www.jamaissanstoit.be/
    Related tip/review: They have had a past, Villeneuve-lès-Avignon Local Custom Tip by Nemorino.

    A homeless man and his dog at the opera
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    No Herve cheese in Brussels!

    by breughel Updated Aug 8, 2013

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    Just a remark about that Herve cheese from Roadquill.
    This is NOT a local cheese of Brussels. Herve is located near Liège at more than 100 Km from Brussels.
    In Brussels when I was a kid one could find "stinkkeis" (stinking cheese).
    Disappeared of the market; there are no cows or goats anymore in or around Brussels.

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  • Roadquill's Profile Photo

    Local Cheese

    by Roadquill Written Jul 30, 2013

    After procuring a nice bottle of Bordeaux, I went across the street and asked the woman at the Fromagerie for a flavorful local cheese. She recommended La Herve du Vieux Moulin. I think it would be better translated as old shoe rather than old mill. That was one stinky cheese. I made the mistake of getting some on my fingers and I almost couldn't get through US Customs five days later.

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  • Kuznetsov_Sergey's Profile Photo

    Everhard Serklaes Touch

    by Kuznetsov_Sergey Updated Jan 11, 2013

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    There is a legend that if to touch a sculpture of Everhard Serclaes, you will return to Bruxelles once again. We tried to touch a sculpture twice - it is come true!

    You can watch my 4 min 05 sec Video Brussels out of my Youtube channel or here on VT.

    Brussels - Everhard Serklaes Touch Brussels - Everhard Serklaes Touch Brussels - Everhard Serklaes Touch Brussels - Everhard Serklaes Touch Brussels - Everhard Serklaes Touch
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    Brussels lace

    by Kuznetsov_Sergey Updated Jan 11, 2013

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    Brussels lace is famous all around the world!
    Brussels lace is a type of pillow lace that originated in and around Brussels. The term "Brussels lace" has been broadly used for any lace from Brussels, however the term strictly interpreted refers to bobbin lace, in which the pattern is made first, then the ground, or réseau, added, also using bobbin lace. Brussels lace is not to be confused with Brussels point, which is a type of needle lace, though is sometimes also called "Brussels lace".

    Brussels lace Brussels lace Brussels lace and Irina
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    ride the Grande Roue or big wheel

    by gwened Written Jan 5, 2013

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    This was fun, not that I am a highs person but the rest of the family agree so the adults took the jump high into the air almost 20 floors high for a magnificent view of the city of Brussels.

    This was the grande roue or big wheel during the festivities of Christmas at plaisirs d'hiver or pleasures of winter event at the pl Sainte Catherine.

    The admission was Five euros per person and you get like three or four rides up and down, just wonderful. We will be back for it, during this time is magical. I have been to others but this is Brussels.

    the views going up to the chalets of Christmas you buy tickets here and wheel behind the view of Brussels to justice the views of Brussels to grand place The view of the church of Ste Catherine
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  • gwened's Profile Photo

    have fries, churros and galore at Brussels

    by gwened Written Jan 5, 2013

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    This is the part of the Christmas celebration at the even plaisirs d'hiver at place Sainte Catherine. It was awesome the experience, highly looking forward to be back with the family at this time.

    We had the famous fries with several sauces and the sausages of beef and chicken as well had the time to taste the churros from a Spanish /Brazilian stand, lol!!! practice both languages too ::)

    a wonderful winter wonderland lol!!!

    Los churros chalet first time the patisserie bruxelloise! fries my fries with andalouse sauce ! Los Churros daytime again!!!
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    the world come to the Grand Place

    by gwened Written Jan 5, 2013

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    this is the place to be so it always remains tops for me whether coming along on business or with family.
    the whole life of Brussels evolves around it,and all major events have a happening here. So if need to say you were in Brussels come here and you are it.

    over the years it has change the layout but the businesseses and ambiance has stayed the same. I first came in 1990 with my parents, and continue to this day with my family now; it has become a favorite place to be.

    the city Brussels take on it
    http://www.brussels.be/artdet.cfm?id=4664&
    the tourist office centers on the hotel de ville ,the main building in the Grand Place
    http://visitbrussels.be/bitc/BE_en/monument/787/city-hall-of-brussels.do

    Bring down the electrabel lights tour Grand Place Grand Place at Christmas 2012 Hotel de Ville at Grand Place
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  • gwened's Profile Photo

    ice cream Australian or HD

    by gwened Written Jan 2, 2013

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    seems to be every where ice creams even in winter month, so figure not a shopping nor a restaurant but could be, so will place it here in local customs.

    Haagen Dazs, the omnipresent American ice cream chain,is big here as well and delicious serving in take out or restaurant style serving. Ours was at rue Neuve 76 upstairs.
    http://www.haagen-dazs.be/html/fr/4/1.html

    the chocolate passion was nice if a bit stuffy,and melts very quick

    then heads for City 2 mall and try the Australian ice cream chain,plenty of outlets all over, ours was inside the mall and came back for more often, better of the two if you ask me. Even with a name like that its Belgian chain!
    http://www.australianicecream.be/fr/shop/province/BE-BRU#shop=209

    the mixing of flavors was awesome here, thicker ices,and aromas to boot, just wonderful a find, as it was my first try at these,if you like ice creams you will love it.

    Australian counter inside mall City 2 Haagen Dazs at rue Neuve
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  • breughel's Profile Photo

    Frites - Forum answer.

    by breughel Written Oct 20, 2012

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    FORUM REPLY.
    Best frites are those made by my wife.
    Outside on the streets there are "fritteries" or what we call "fritkot" snacks where they serve only frites. I wrote years ago a tip about them http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/p/m/193ee3/
    In Belgium it is difficult to eat bad frites; even in a Turkish kebab snack they make frites in the Belgian way and serve them with the kebab!
    Warning: never eat ketchup with frites but mayonnaise, pickles, mustard or just salt.

    Now near the Grand Place you could eat mussels with frites (moules frites here my tip http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/p/m/20aa8b/) at Chez Leon already mentioned here.

    Btw don't forget to visit the collection of Flemish Painters at the Musée Royal des Beaux Arts otherwise you might deceive me! Belgians combine always the pleasures of the belly with the pleasures of the brain.

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  • breughel's Profile Photo

    Not much respect for laws.

    by breughel Updated Sep 10, 2012

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    The present Belgium is independent only since 1830. During almost two thousand years her inhabitants knew invasions and foreign dominations. At first Romans who after defeating the Belgian Celtic tribes imposed the Roman order and civilization and made of this country the most northern Latin country even if presently the majority of the Belgians speak a Germanic language Flemish/Dutch.
    Written Flemish is identical to Dutch but spoken it is different like English from the UK differs from English from the USA.

    Often divided vertically into three parts the Belgians made the experience of some good foreign rulers like the Dukes de Bourgogne, but more bad ones like the Spanish domination under king Felipe II. The term "Spanish fury" stayed in our language and memory.
    All the nearby countries occupied Belgium except the British.
    This long period of foreign domination marked the Belgian character. Belgium is probably the country which has most laws and regulations which are not respected by the citizens. In our mentality laws are made to get round them.

    Belgian Revolution of 1830.
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  • breughel's Profile Photo

    SELF-DERISION.

    by breughel Updated Sep 10, 2012

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    More than frites, mussels, pralines self-derision seems to be a Belgian specificity at least according to those who observe this country.
    According to the dictionary self-derision is "laughing at oneself with sarcasm " it is not humour (British) "shape of spirit which consists in presenting the reality so as to show its pleasant and unusual aspects" it is not the "esprit français" which is to the detriment of others.
    Our "auto-derision" is also different from self-deprecation; there is a good part of fun in our "auto-derision"

    Mind you, all Belgians do not practise self-derision; you will find in Belgium numerous persons whose oversized ego prevents them from any self-derision. In Brussels we call them "dikke nek". We also have more and more mentally underdeveloped people unable to laugh at themselves.
    With a little luck you will meet Belgians who practise this magnificent virtue of self-derision and I am certain that you will take pleasure in this practice.

    A result of self-derision is that in the Belgian political discourse you will not meet patriotic expressions like: "God bless …, God save …, Proud to be …, Nation, Patrie ".
    That does not mean that "patriotism" is not existing; patriotism exists but only when Belgium is invaded!

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  • breughel's Profile Photo

    PRALINES (NOT "chocolates").

    by breughel Updated Sep 9, 2012

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    IT IS NOW 100 YEARS AGO THAT JEAN (II) NEUHAUS INVENTED THE PRALINE IN BRUSSELS.

    Genuine Belgians use the word PRALINES for what is called "chocolates" by tourists. If outside the touristic centres you ask for chocolate you will get a bar of chocolate.

    The production of pralines in Belgium is now in hands of a number of companies who have industrialized the process what does, fortunately, not mean that quality has diminished. These larger companies have oriented their production to the export making of the Belgian pralines a luxury export product of world wide fame. There are also a good number of artisanal workshops.
    Belgians consider that brands like Neuhaus, Godiva, Corné are the better ones at least among the big producers. Leonidas is lower in rank but also in price. When a Belgian offers pralines, he will buy the better rated ones, but for his own use he might take the Leonidas because the difference in price is wider than the difference in quality. When offering pralines we usually buy a ballotin (box) of 500 or 750 gr. mixed (assortment). For our own use we select the types we like most. My favoured praline types, for example, are the "manons" especially the"manons sucrées" of Neuhaus.
    I prefer to stay with the traditional Belgian taste of the pralines so that a Marcolini is not on my list.

    What is remarkable with Belgian pralines is the significant price increase as soon as they cross the Belgian border. Worst increase of price is when they are sold at luxury shops like Harrods in London. Multiplication by 2.5 of the Belgian price. I can understand that the poor Londoners buy Belgian pralines at Harrods by only one or two pieces at the time! Therefore, when you leave Belgium buy some kilos at the Brussels airport. There are good shops with a large variety of the best pralines.
    A price idea: 40 - 50 €/kg

    Are pralines good or bad for health? They are certainly good for the moral, they induce a euphoric feeling. Some addiction to pralines has been reported. I am one of these praline addicts.

    Ballotin de pralines.
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