Take a walk with Prom!
We’ve been working on this walk with Prom.brussels for a while and we're super excited to share it with you!
Prom is the brainchild of Aline & Laurens, a couple who moved to Brussels over 7 years ago. Although they’d had plenty of time to discover their neighbourhood and all of the nice places to go for dinners or drinks, they would spend most of the time walking around with their brains on autopilot and hardly take the time to explore what was in front of them: the city itself. Since then, they’ve been on a mission : making up new itineraries to (Prom)ote Brussels.
At Maison Dandoy, our roots are in Brussels but we feel like the city never stops surprising us, as if it were a magical place constantly changing. That's why we decided to go for two lovely walks with Prom this summer, highlighting the history and architecture of the neighbourhoods surrounding our boutiques, sharing anecdotes and hidden gems for brusseleirs and tourists alike.
You can follow the itinerary on this page below or download it here.
Start with rue des Colonies and take the first left turn into rue de la Chancellerie. Follow this road and you’ll arrive at a huge cathedral built in Braban Gothic architectural style. This is Saints Michael and Gudule Cathedral.
You may be wondering why it has two names. Saint Michael is the archangel and patron saint of Brussels, giving the cathedral its first name. However, since 1047, the relics of Sainte Gudule have been kept inside, hence its second name.
Fun fact: every year since 2004, a pair of peregrine falcons build their nest on the top floor of the left tower. The Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences have installed a camera so that everyone can follow the brooding and hatching of the chicks and the life of the little family. It usually goes live in April and it’s quite moving!
Take the first left turn into rue du Fossé aux Loup - literally “ditch of the wolves street”. There used to be an Augustinian Convent where the monks made a special bread rolled in sugar called “brood van de grecht” in Dutch, which means “bread from the ditch”. Later on, this was mistranslated from Dutch to French into “pain à la Grecque”, Greek bread. But don’t be fooled: this bread has nothing to do with Greece and is a specialty of Brussels. If you’re wondering where you can still get your hands on some, you’ll find it in our boutiques! It’s your lucky day because you’ll be there very soon!
Take your next left into rue Léopold. If you’re looking for a place to eat or have a snack while you rest your feet, you can take the first street on your right. Rue des Princes hosts Frank, a restaurant with great food and top notch service. You can either choose to sit on the quiet outdoor terrace or admire the art-nouveau stained glass dome window from inside.
To continue the walk, rejoin rue Leopold and follow it until you reach rue de l’Ecuyer. Make a left and head a bit further up the street until you reach the entrance to the Royal Galleries on your right. In the first gallery, the “King’s gallery”, there is a shop on your left called KAAI bags. From the dutch word for quay, this shop sells bags made in Antwerp by up and coming designers who take inspiration from art-nouveau architecture.
Welcome to Queen’s Gallery. On the left, you'll find the Galeries Cinema, one of the oldest movie theatres in Brussels. Stop by and ask which exhibitions are on at the moment. Surprisingly, an exhibition space of more than 1000m2 hides downstairs, more or less the same floor space as that of the galleries, but underground. If you have time, you can also choose to watch a movie from their sharp arthouse selection. The cinema has two big projection rooms and one small one. Few people know that the two big ones used to be one huge, spectacular room back in the 60s.
At the end of this street, you'll get to Grand-Place, and you'll most probably, especially if it’s the first time, need time to recover from the overwhelming and breath-taking architecture. Lots of gold, lots of detail, so much architectural skill and so much history… Can you spot the number 9 of the place? It’s Maison du Cygne and that’s the café restaurant where Karl Marx wrote The Communist Party Manifesto, no less! It has now become an upmarket restaurant, yet still, a part of history lives within these walls.
Once you are done admiring this spot, try and find the corner with a restaurant called “Le Roy d’Espagne” and enter the little paved street called rue au Beurre. A bit further down you'll stumble upon our oldest boutique. Our very first boutique was actually only a few steps away and was opened in 1829, (yes even before Belgium was created!). It moved to rue au Beurre in 1868 and as this street actually means “Butter street”, it was pretty much a sign of fate! Inside, you’ll receive the same warm welcome and find the same tasty treats as in all of our boutiques, but with an extra atmosphere of history. Some would even say that there is an additional smell to the biscuits sold here: the smell of tradition.
Keep straight and once you find yourself behind la Bourse, turn left into rue du Midi. At the number 23, there is a shop called Catherine. Here, Catherine and José welcome you warmly with the best tips on choosing the perfect slice of Belgian (or foreign) cheese to serve at your next dinner party. They also provide local products from the Montplainchamps farm and make the tastiest sandwiches for lunch.
Keep to your left and go up rue de l’Escalier which will lead you to Boulevard de l’Empereur. Turn left and keep going straight until you arrive at the bottom of Mont des Arts on your right. There you’ll find the Royal Library of Belgium, sometimes called the Albertina amongst locals. On the fifth floor, Café Albert offers an outstanding view of Brussels and a homemade rhubarb lemonade that is worth the journey. After 5 pm, you can enter the bar through Museumstraat where you get the chance to see the impressive entrance hall.
Once you’re at the top of Mont des Arts, turn around and take a few minutes to get your breath back while taking in the view. Still Facing the view, make a right into rue Ravenstein. At number 2, you’ll find Laurent Gerbaud’s shop, a great chocolate maker who provides the chocolate for our special speculoos. A bit further down on the corner lies the museum BOZAR, a vibrant art house and an architectural masterpiece designed by Victor Horta. With lots of events, exhibitions, cultural activities and a nice restaurant, BOZAR has gained its place as an international museum.
16. Just opposite the museum, enter the Ravenstein Gallery with its beautiful art deco architecture. In the past, it used to be very busy with more than 80 stores and lively cafés inside. Be sure to look up at the entrance so as not to miss the frescoes. Representing the Winds, the Constellations and the Elements, they contribute to the classification of the Ravenstein Gallery as heritage in 2009.
Once you’re out of the gallery, you are back at Gare Centrale! We hope you enjoyed the walk. Don’t miss the next one in August!