Shopping in Brussels
Brussels' classic souvenir is chocolate. Fresh creamy pralines are for sale at Wittamer, Place du Grand-Sablon, who have had almost a century to perfect their recipes. Other names to look out for is the top-quality Neuhaus, Grand-Place 27 and Galerie de la Reine 25 - 27, and Godiva, also located in the Grand-Place. Cheaper chocolates are available from the popular Léonidas chain, Boulevard Anspach 46. Belgian biscuits are also a gift guaranteed to bring a guilty smile to the receiver. Dandoy, Rue au Beurre 31, produce melt-in-your-mouth macaroons and the Brussels speciality speculoos - a gingerbread biscuit with a crunch. Beer is best bought at Bière Artisanale, Chaussée de Wavre 174,which stocks over 400 types of beer and glasses to suit.
Designer clothes are clustered around the smart Avenue Louise and Avenue de la Toison d'Or. Key shopping stops on Avenue Louise include Belgian designers at Shine's new flagship store, located at 82-84 Avenue Louise - fantastic for stunning silk dresses and floaty, Chinese-inspired creations - and more down-to-earth daywear in muted tones at Caroline Biss, 21 Avenue Louise. Established and up-and-coming Belgian designers - such as Olivier Strelli, Ann Demeulemeester, Dries Van Noten and Carine Lauwers - line the fashionable Rue Antoine Dansaert. Innovative Stijl has more avant-garde Belgian designer clothes, by designers such as Xavier Delcour and Olivier Theyskens, at number 74, underwear at number 47 and children's clothes at Kat en Muis, number 32.
Children's and adults' tastes alike are met at Brussels' many comic book shops. Among these is centrally located La Boutique Tintin, Rue de la Colline 13. Brussels lace - on show at the Lace Museum, Rue de la Violette 6 - is for sale at F Rubbrecht, Grand-Place 23, or at the city's largest lace maker, Manufacture Belge de Dentelle, Galerie de la Reine 6 - 8. Most of the souvenir lace shops around Grand-Place are less authentic.
Every day is market day in the different parts of Brussels. Among the best of these is the flower market, open Tuesday to Sunday 0800 -1800, at Grand-Place, also the site of the Sunday morning bird market. Antiques are sold at the market on Place du Grand-Sablon, Saturday 0900 - 1800 and Sunday 0900 - 1300, while the flea market at Place du Jeu de Balle, in the Marolles district, is open daily 0700 - 1300, at its best on weekend mornings. A more high street experience, however, is at hand at City 2 shopping mall, in the shop-studded Rue Neuve, where shops stay open on Fridays until 2000.