What to Buy in Belgium?
Belgium has made a reputation for itself in a number of products and some of these you don’t even have to travel to Belgium to enjoy. Belgian chocolate for example is world famous, not to mention Belgian beers. Other famous products include:
It’s an important center of the art world and has been for centuries. There is an incredible wealth of antiques here and you have a choice of museum-quality stores in the major cities to the antique markets in smaller towns. Browse around the shops and you’ll also see Art Deco objects, old books, fine crystals and lots of other interesting artifacts.
Shoppers looking for that special diamond ring should head for Antwerp. This city is one of the biggest and most important diamond centers in the world. Antwerp has played an important role in the diamond trade since the 15th century. More than 85% of the world’s rough diamonds, 50% of cut diamonds and 40% of industrial diamonds are traded here.
Belgium owes it lace reputation to Emperor Charles V who decreed that lace-making should be a compulsory skill for girls in convents and beguinages throughout Flanders. Today Bruges and Brussels are centers of bobbin lace and hundreds of craftswomen still work in centers creating intricate work by hand.
If looking for tapestries, Belgian tapestry has been a highly prized luxury craft for over six centuries. Tapestries were prized by the nobility in the past as they were portable. When the kings traveled to their estates, these tapestries could be moved with the court.
Where to Shop?
Brussels, as capital city and the headquarters of the European Community and NATO naturally has all the upmarket shops to meet the needs of its high profile residents. The Avenue Louise is described as one long catwalk of famous fashion brands, including the all too familiar names like Chanel, Giorgio Armani, Versace, Christian Dior, Hermes and Louis Vuitton.
Designer shops and boutiques can be also be found in the Boulevard de Waterloo area, Place Stephanie, Place du Grand Sablon and on Rue Antoine Dansaert. Specialty shops can be found on Rue Haute and Rue Blaes.
If you are looking for bargains, then head for the lower city around Rue Neuve. This main pedestrian shopping street is the longest one in Brussels. This street has mainly international chain stores whereas the smaller and more original shops can be found between the Grand’Place and the Rue Lemonnier.
Outside the city center, shopping districts are located at Uccle, St Gilles and Ixelles.
If you’ve got a few days in Belgium and want to do some serious retail therapy, it’s worthwhile heading out to Maasmechelen Village which is the largest outlet shopping center in Belgium. Those who’ve been to La Vallée in Paris, Bicester Village in London or Fidenza Village in Milan, will see similarity with the Maasmechelen Village setup. It is managed by the same Chic Outlet Shopping group which has nine same concept villages in Europe. Shoppers will find a wide range of international and local designer names here at 33% less than the previous year’s prices.
Maasmechelen is ideally located at the crossroads of Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. It is easily accessible via the E314 motorway, exit 33. Twenty minutes from Maastricht and just one hour from each of Antwerp, Brussels, Düsseldorf and Cologne.
Every winter, the center of Brussels tranforms into a “Winter Wonderland”.The Christmas Market features approximately 240 wooden stalls selling Christmas ornaments, handicraft items and lots of Christmas and other seasonal gastronomic treats. Choirs, processions, troupes of wandering artists, bands and concerts contribute to the holiday atmosphere.