Anna reporting from Brussels

I like to tell my visitors that the city of Brussels, once a settlement in the swamp (Broeksel, means ‘home in the marshes’), makes a bad first impression, but a great second and third impression. The ever-changing facade of the city houses a population as diverse as the member states of the European Union, which Brussels is currently the home of. It impresses mainly through the variety of experiences one can have in this town. The Brussels Capital Region, scarred by politics and economic ambition, is made up out of 19 municipalities; each with their own unique atmosphere. 

When Irene asked me to write a report on Brussels for Bloesem, I decided quickly (aided by stormy weather, I must admit), that taking on the entirety of Brussels is too ambitious a project. Instead, I will focus in my report on my own neighborhood, Ixelles (Elsene in Dutch). It is where I moved to in the spring of 2009 and the part of Brussels I have become most familiar with. Brussels is geographically divided into a lower part and an upper part, and Ixelles is located in the upper part to the south of Brussels. This leafy neighborhood houses a large African community and is also home to a lot of expats who shop in the high-end stores on the Avenue Louise. For Bloesem, I picked a few smaller, lesser-known boutiques south of the Avenue Louise. 

We’ll start all the way near Place Brugmann, where we find Graphie Sud. This concept-store by Violaine Damien has an impressive collection of clothes (by Isabel Marant, Claudie Pierlot and others), decorative objects and knick-knacks from independent designers and luxury brands alike. There’s truly something to be found for every budget. 

{Graphie Sud: Rue Berkendael 195, 1050 Ixelles, +32 (0)2 344 31 92}

Walking up through the beautiful art nouveau quarter of Brussels, we reach the Rue de Page. This street that leads up to the Place du Châtelain, where each Wednesday-afternoon a crowd gathers to buy cheeses and vegetables on the cosy organic market, to end the evening with a glass of champagne or beer in (or outside of) one of the many cafes. From the Chaussée de Waterloo, we quickly come across a delightful little shop on Rue de Page 92: Little Circus. I absolutely freaking adore this shop. I literally was jumping up and down the first time I entered it. Owner Morgane Teheux has great taste in children’s clothes, furniture and accessories, but the store is a treat even if you don’t have children. Among others, she sells goodies by Cocon, Sophie Cuvelier, The Small Object, Cotton & Milk, Fine Little Day, Paumes and Piqpoq.

{Little Circus: Rue du Page 92, 1050 Ixelles and the blog}

A little further up the Rue du Page, on the corner with the Rue du Prévot, we find A La Page. This charming shop, decorated with blue tile and opulent plants, recalls simple times gone by. White porcelain, vintage linens, kitchen utensils, silverware, and ancient shoes and clothing are all beautifully laid out on display. This shop regularly updates its collection with carefully selected second hand items and is an oasis of calm and reflection full of vintage treasures for your home.

{A La Page: Rue du Prévot 2, 1050 Ixelles, +32 (0)2 537 33 04}

Le Typographe, recently relocated to the Rue Américaine 67, is simultaneously a shop, a print atelier for artists, a papeterie, and a professional printer using ancient authentic techniques. The shop offers a variety of beautifully printed cards and stationary, as well as charming office supplies, pencils and gifts. Occasionally, the atelier is opened to the public and you can see the magnificent old (letterpress) printers at work. Impressive!

{Le Typographe: Rue Américaine 67, 1050 Ixelles, +32 (0)2 345 16 76}

Finally, walking towards the busy Rue de Bailli, another well-known shopping street in Ixelles, we find the Rose shop behind the church. This relatively large shop houses a collection of design goodies I like to describe as ‘things you really don’t need but really want’. During previous visits I have bought (1) porcelain container shaped like a bird, (2) Pantone color chairs, countless postcards, (1) bright blue iPhone case, and (1) red scarf. The store is organized according to color and this makes browsing the store a pleasurable experience. But perhaps that’s just me. I arrange my books by color.

{Rose: Rue de l’Aqueduc 56-58, 1050 Ixelles, +32 (0)2 534 98 08}

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little store-by-store tour of my neighborhood. I must say I’ve left out quite a bit and I could go on for hours. But hey, if you made it through the tour this far, you’ve at least seen some of the highlights. Special thanks to my friend Debbie and boyfriend Ashwin for accompanying me on my walk.

Love, Anna Denise

Find me also at my blog The Yellow Umbrella

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