One of my favorite spots on a Sunday in Brussels is the Jeu de Balle Square in the Marolles neighborhood.
Ducking under the towering Palais de la Justice, in the lower part of town, the Marolles have always been a poorer, worker’s neighborhood, deemed somewhat unruly.
It’s precisely for that reason that the Palace of Justice was placed there (with parts of the Marolles being destroyed to make room for it).
Still today parts of the area are clearer poorer, with city housing blocks and a generally more run-down feeling.
On the other hand, both rue Haute and rue Blaes, the main streets running through the neighborhood, sport an astonishing amount of antique and furniture shops, design places and galleries.
Reason for that is the massive flea market on the Jeu de Balles Square. It attracted so many people looking for used, antique things that the shops followed suit.
Rumor has it that you have to come early to get the best things – and you might find them later on in an antique shop. With the appropriate price tag.
I can’t find the source anymore, but I remember reading that the flea market has been held there since around 1916. Every day. Come wind and weather, world war one or two.
The square is full with clothes, old furniture, records, books, comics, entire households… and trash. Literally.
It’s great to stroll through it, and be inspired of all the stuff humanity produces.
The surrounding cafés and bars are packed, often with musicians playing old tunes, and people sitting in the sun over their first Belgian beer of the day.
Sabine and I just strolled through it. It has become a kind of Sunday tradition to go there, even without ever buying anything.
For me though no Brussels visit is complete without a stroll through this area.
We ended the afternoon in Fontainas, again, over the world’s best vegetarian lasagna. Happy weekend.