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BRUSSELS BELGIUM EUROPE

DEC 2-15 2011 ISSUE 7 €4.95

NATO HERE TO STAY

Chief Rasmussen talks about the HQ’s future in Brussels CHRISTMAS

Brussels Airlines, What to see, buy the company that took and eat this off from Sabena festive season

CULTURE

Georges Simenon, the man behind the manuscripts

UP MY STREET

Avenue Louise DEPOT BRUXELLES X

FOCUS


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Contents

p24 Brussels Airlines

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p37 Beyond Brussels

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p62 Christmas markets

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Politics & Business

Culture & Events

Lifestyle & Community

7 News In Brief

29 Events In Brief

47 Lifestyle In Brief

12 Focus – Anders Fogh

30 14 Days The Bulletin’s cultural highlights for the fortnight ahead – in Brussels and beyond

52 Food – Love at First Bite Owner of Forest-based catering company LaBritannique, Alex Weston, gives us the inside scoop on his foodie favourites

Rasmussen

With its operations in Libya at a close, Nato’s Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen talks to us about defence tactics, diplomacy and dancing 18 Focus – Eco housing Once considered too costly, eco housing is now on the rise thanks to regional governments offering financial incentives to homeowners. Emma Portier Davis investigates 21 Your Money 23 Digital What’s new in the virtual world 24 The Brand – Brussels Airlines How Sabena’s successor broke into the cut-throat aviation business 27 Know-how Our guide to venues for a last-minute office party

35 Offers to readers 38 Film Reviews of the latest films to hit the big screen, plus not-to-miss cinema highlights 39 TV Essential viewing on the small screen 40 Focus – Georges Simenon The creator of Maigret comes under inspection at an exhibition at Brussels’ Museum of Letters and Manuscripts 44 Focus – Christmas cultural

guide

The Bulletin’s friends and readers share their tips on what cultural events to see this yuletide

54 Focus – Christmas gift guide Present ideas for all the family, friends and significant others in your lives. Plus the best of online Christmas shopping 60 Up My Street 62 Travel We whisk you off to the best Christmas market destinations in Belgium and beyond 64 Behind the Scenes 66 Community 71 Property 76 Classifieds 80 Jobs 82 Capital Life A member of the international community opens up her diary for the Bulletin

Editeur Responsable /Verantwoordelijke uitgever: John Stuyck, A. Gossetlaan 30, 1702 Groot-Bijgaarden. Opinions expressed in The Bulletin are those of the authors alone. For reasons of space, street names in Brussels are given only in their French version.


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Politics & Business

Breakthrough

COALITION AGREEMENT MEANS GOVERNMENT “WITHIN DAYS” Belgium could have a government within days, according to putative prime minister Elio Di Rupo, after political parties clinched a deal on the 2012 budget (Di Rupo pictured centre at the postbudget press conference). The budget agreement, the last major hurdle to forming a government among six Belgian parties, came hours after ratings agency Standard & Poor’s had downgraded Belgium’s credit to AA from AA+, pressing the country to act. Just days earlier, the coalition talks were plunged into uncertainty as Di Rupo tendered his resignation from his six-month role in forming a government coalition. King Albert, however, persuaded Di Rupo to return to the negotiating table. Di Rupo then secured the deal that could end Belgium’s 18-month wait for a formal government. The country will also reform its employment and pensions regulations: the minimum age for early retirement will be raised to 62 by 2016, while Belgium’s controversial wage indexation policy – which gives unemployed people a percentage of their former salary indefinitely – will be revised.


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Know-how

Everybody say office party! Our guide to cracking festive venues

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h, the office Christmas party. The most keenly awaited, yet fraught, social event in the work calendar. Will you embarrass yourself by mistaking the CEO for a waiter, or end up sitting next to the person you’ve spent the last 364 days avoiding? And will it be turkey for dinner again? If you’ve been co-opted into organising yours this year and you’ve left it horribly late, don’t despair. Remember, the simplest ideas are often the best when it comes to parties. A mass, uncoordinated slither around the Christmas market ice rink, fuelled by mulled wine and giant hotdogs doesn’t take much organising, and might go down better with the troops than an overly formal seven-course tasting menu. But if you’re looking for something with a bit more ‘wow’ factor, here are a few alternative suggestions to help you to avoid ending up with, well, a turkey.

The Flat

If you’re more into drinking and dancing than sitting and eating at your Christmas party, why not try The Flat? The clue is in the name: it’s a bar/club laid out and furnished like someone’s apartment, albeit a very stylish, spacious one, conveniently located at Porte de Namur. That means you can have your drink sitting in the kitchen, lying in the bed, or even in the bath if the mood takes you. It’s like a house party where someone else is in charge of clearing up in the morning, and where the host just happens to serve great mojitos. The stock market-style display of fluctuating drinks prices on flat-screen televisions adds an extra frisson to offering to buy your colleagues a round. There’s no charge to reserve single rooms (accommodating 20-30 people) or even the whole first floor (80100 people), just a minimum drinks order per person of €7.50. The Flat can also offer an Italian-style antipasti buffet courtesy of local restaurant Cose Cosi. For the terminally disorganised party planner, between 18.00 and 20.00 there’s no need to reserve, and no minimum drink order, something to keep in mind for last-minute catastrophes.

Nemo 33

In the unlikely surroundings of the Drogenbos retail park, Nemo 33, the deepest diving pool in the world, is definitely a venue with a difference. Although you probably can’t take the whole office right down into the abyss (only certified divers can attempt the full 35 metres), Nemo 33 does offer hour-long ‘introduction to diving’ sessions for groups. Even if you don’t dive, it makes a brilliantly unusual underwaterthemed party venue: the ‘Decompression’ room has a real French navy 1956 decompression chamber placed on top of the bar, and the ‘Yellow Submarine’ has, you guessed it, a full-sized sub hanging from the ceiling. Smaller groups can simply reserve a table in the Club House bar and restaurant overlooking the pool, which is fully licensed and serves very decent Thai food. Nemo 33 offers a vast range of packages for events, with or without diving. Indicative prices for an introductory dive range from €45 to €70 per person, and room hire from €250 for the smallest private room. to

Dive in at Nemo 33 for an of fice party with a dif ference

KoKoB

There’s something instantly cheering about downtown Ethiopian restaurant KoKoB, which may or may not be related to their excellent, rum-heavy cocktails. The music is good, the serving staff are friendly, and the instant intimacy of eating with your fingers and sharing food with your colleagues using injera – a giant spongy millet pancake – is a perfect ice-breaker. On top of that, the food is delicious: a range of cleverly spiced meat, seafood stews and pulse dishes, with excellent sides and salads. KoKoB is a particularly great venue for vegetarians, sparing them the predictable 500 variations on mushrooms and goat cheese. Group menus range from €20 to €44 per person (from €27 a head, they include an aperitif, wine and water), and the function room has a capacity of 45 seated, or 90 standing. At the time of writing, all venues still had availability for a range of dates in the weeks before Christmas, but they book up fast, so don’t delay.

More guides on www.thebulletin.be

THE FLAT

12 Rue de la Reinette Tel 02.502.74.34 0495.903.203 www.theflat.be meeting@theflat.be NEMO 33

333 Rue de Stalle Tel 02.333.38.35 www.nemo33.com event@nemo33. com KOKOB

10 Rue des Grands Carmes Tel 02.511.19.50 www.kokob.be info@kokob.be


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Culture & Events

Dance fusion

IT’S BRUGES OR BUST this week for dance fans. This fifth edition of Bruges’ annual international contemporary dance festival is curated by the acclaimed British-Bengali dancer-choreographer Akram Khan (above), who has designed a programme richly spiced with classical Indian dance and its modern variants performed to live music by peerless specialists. Dancers from Japan, Canada, South Africa and Taiwan are on the roster, too, and the grand finale is a Bollywood Ball for kids. Khan himself performs the Belgian première (Dec 10) of Confluence, his fourth collaboration with Anglo-Indian musician Nitin Sawhney, and will discuss (Dec 4) the inter- and cross-cultural themes of ‘his’ December Dance. It isn’t all theory: “My mum played Tom Jones LPs on one side of the living room while my dad watched Bollywood films on the other,” Khan says. Concertgebouw and Stadsschouwburg, Bruges, until December 11, www.decemberdance.be


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BEYOND BRUSSELS Belgium-wide highlights Performance

Event DECEMBER 9-11

Lemi Ponifasio’s ‘Birds with Skymirrors’

UNTIL DECEMBER 9

Salon du vin et de la gastronomie

DECEMBER 14 & 15

0090 Kunsten Festival

Lemi Ponifasio/Mau

Annual multidisciplinary festival featuring works by cutting-edge Turkish artists (0090 is Turkey’s international dialing code) and by Belgian artists who have developed work while in Turkey. Festival regulars Mustafa Kaplan and Filiz Sizanli are back with a new piece, Eskiyeni; playing keyboards and synths, Gaye Su Akyol and Tugçe Senogul show why they’re big in Istanbul’s underground music scene; two new theatre pieces, Mesut Arslan’s Ve Veya Ya Da and, pictured below, Sahika Tekand’s How to Forget in 10 Steps (Anti-Prometheus), along with Brussels-based choreographer Meg Stuart’s dance Off Course, which was made in Istanbul, are among the festival’s Belgian premières; visual artist Caner Aslan’s show is on view until December 18. Monty, Antwerp, www.0900.be

Samoan-born, Auckland (NZ)-based choreographer Lemi Ponifasio creates, with his company Mau, performances infused with the drama and intensity of ceremonies and rituals of indigenous peoples of the South Pacific. Visually powerful, rhythmically hypnotic, his dance theatre pieces tackle critical contemporary issues with a timeless urgency. Birds with Skymirrors, shown at the Edinburgh Festival last year and in Brussels earlier this month, is a cry to preserve Earth’s natural environment. Don’t pass up this chance to see it in Antwerp. Incidentally, ‘Mau’ means ‘revolution’. deSingel, Antwerp, www.desingel.be DECEMBER 6-9

L’Opéra du Pauvre

Sahika Tekand’s ‘AntiPrometheus’ in 0090 Kunsten Festival

First fully staged production of the late anarchist poet/singer/composer Léo Ferré’s only opera, which he himself performed solo in 1983. Dark temptress Night is brought to trial by the hypocritical forces of light, and you can guess who comes out the more truthful and, ultimately, appealing. Jean Paul Dessy conducts his Mons-based Ensemble Musiques Nouvelles in a score that mixes pop, jazz and early 20th-century classical strains; Thierry Poquet directs. Théâtre Le Manège, Mons www.lemanege.com Théâtre de la Place, Dec 20-22, Liège www.theatredelaplace.be

With Christmas around the corner, there’s no better way to imbibe the festive spirit than at this annual get-together of passionate winegrowers and regional food producers from home and abroad. Cheese, charcuterie, olives and foie gras are some of the culinary specialities on offer, along with 500 wines to sample. Quality and variety remain the theme for the 100 exhibitors participating in the fair’s 21st edition. Seasonal atmosphere and gift ideas guaranteed. Namur Expo, Namur www.salonduvindenamur.be UNTIL DECEMBER 31

Christmas markets Why fight it? ’Tis the season of Christmas cheer, so embrace the chance to stock up on crafty, foodie presents from around the world. It also offers an excuse to fill up on warming mulled wine, local liqueurs and a tantalising range of regional and seasonal bites; ice-skating rinks and kiddies’ rides at the bigger markets will help all the family work up a hearty appetite. Almost every town and city across the country contributes to the yuletide heritage. Our favourites include the artisan-themed market at Durbuy, every weekend throughout December, the complete Christmas packages at Liège and Bruges, and the German-themed events in the eastern cantons which offer a fairytale experience in the full European tradition. Across the country, www.wallonie-tourisme.be www.toerismevlaanderen.nl More on www.thebulletin.be


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BOOK NOW Our future favourites

Music DECEMBER 15

Matthias Goerne A Baroque Christmas programme that’s hard to beat: top German baritone Matthias Goerne and the Chamber Orchestra of Basel, conducted by Julia Schröder, perform two religious cantatas by Johann Sebastian Bach and another by his prolific contemporary and compatriot Christoph Graupner (his Christmas Cantata) plus a Bach concerto for oboe, violin and strings and Telemann’s overture for trumpet, oboe and strings. Divine. de Singel, Antwerp, www.desingel.be

Visual DECEMBER 2-6

Lineart This big international showcase of ethnic, modern and contemporary art hardly sets the gold standard for art fairs of its type, but it attracts hundreds of galleries from Europe and beyond, and there are signs that it is coming up in the world. The current, 30th annual edition’s special photography section and impressive lecture series are bound to add ballast and attract specialists. Flanders Expo, Ghent, www.lineart.be

Snow Patrol with latest album ‘Fallen Empires’ JANUARY 11

Maria João Pires & Antonio Meneses – Rare appearance One of the highlights of Bozar’s Europalia programme is the prodigious Portuguese pianist playing alongside renowned Brazilian cellist Antonio Meneses. Having performed with the most prestigious orchestras and recorded with the illustrious label Deutsche Grammophon, she here applies her serious dexterity and emotional profundity to Schubert, Brahms and Mendelssohn. Bozar, Brussels, www.bozar.be FEBRUARY 29

Snow Patrol – Scaling charts The indie rock band is a familiar face in Belgium, having notched up appearances at Werchter, Pukkelpop and Forest National. Now the Glasgow-based boys from Northern Ireland present sixth album Fallen Empires, billed as a change of direction, but still delivering the anthem-style ballads that have ensured international attention since 2003. Lotto Arena, Antwerp www.proximusgoformusic.be Work by Sacha Goldberger, on show at Lineart

MARCH 4 & 5

Sting – Back on stage With a solo career spanning a quarter of a century, the singer-songwriter and sometime environmental activist hits the road with the Back to Bass European Tour, which celebrates some of his biggest hits, including Desert Rose, Every Breath You Take and Fields of Gold. The renowned perfectionist will be charming audiences two nights in a row in the intimate setting of this Brussels venue. Cirque Royal, Brussels www.proximusgoformusic.be APRIL 12

Emilie Autumn – Anarchy Queen The American glam-rock singer and violinist returns to Belgium with her all-female backing band The Bloody Crumpets. The outspoken musician, who has toured with Courtney Love’s Hole and Smashing Pumpkins, is reputed for her range of wild musical styles and stage personas. Vk*, Brussels, www.vkconcerts.be


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Focus

Just the ticket Treat yourself over the holidays to Belgium’s rich cultural offerings. Need inspiration? Find it here, in the holiday plans of some of the Bulletin’s friends and neighbours 4 1 Belgian rock band Puggy is pure Brussels: bassist Romain Descampes is French, vocalist Matthew Irons English, and drummer Egil ‘Ziggy’ Franzén Swedish.

Best known for his collaborations with fellow Canadian Feist (or with fellow oddball Katerine), Gonzales has recently re-booted his solo career, set a world record for the longest solo-artist performance of all time (27 hours and 3 minutes!) and started....rapping. He’ll play in front of a seated Orangerie, doing what he calls a Piano-Talk-Show, mixing up his crazy piano skills and vast musical knowledge with strange and humorous lyrics. Not to be missed if you’re looking for something different to do on the day before the day before the day before Christmas. Le Botanique, 236 Rue Royale, Brussels, Dec 22 www.botanique.be CHILLY GONZALES

If you feel the need to get away from your in-laws or the rest of the overjoyed population during these festive times, the Cinematek offers the comfort of a dark retreat. On Christmas Day you can see Mary Poppins, The Yellow Submarine and Amarcord, and between features find entertainment in the small film museum. End the evening sipping a mighty Belgian Christmas beer in a typical Brussels bar around the corner. ’Tis the season. 9 Rue Baron Horta, Brussels, www.cinematek.be CINEMATEK

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Cascadeur is a friend of ours and a fellow Casablanca Records artiste. Don’t let his big crash helmet fool you. His music is very sensitive and elegant. A lot of this has to do with his unusual voice. We’ve had the chance to play shows with him and can tell you first-hand that his live sets are impressive. He has an uncanny ability to transport you into his own dreamlike universe. Le Botanique, 236 Rue Royale, Brussels, Dec 14, www.botanique.be CASCADEUR

Touching exhibition resulting from a collaboration between MSF and the NOOR photography agency. Five photographers from around the globe have documented life in some of the poorest places on earth, as well as the work that MSF is doing there. All five Belgian branches of Fnac are participating. At the Brussels branch you can see Alixandra Fazzina’s shots taken in Karachi. Fnac, 17a-20 Avenue de la Toison d’Or, Brussels, until Dec 31 www.urbansurvivors.org URBAN SURVIVORS

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“Flemish art is among my favourites and I greatly admire the Groeninge Museum’s collection”

José Manuel Barroso


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2 Marie Pok, Director of Grand-Hornu Images architecture and design centre

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José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission

IMPERIAL TREASURES: FLEMISH MASTERPIECES FROM VIENNA’S KUNSTHISTORISCHES

It’s the last chance to visit these major Europalia exhibitions about art in Brazil, a country with a rich history and major developments in contemporary art and design right now! Bozar, 23 Rue Ravenstein, Brussels, until Jan 15, www.europalia.eu BRAZIL.BRASIL AND ART IN BRAZIL 1950-2011

OBJET PRÉFÉRÉ BY FABRICA This exhibition is about

the favourite objects of staff members at Grand-Hornu, where I’ve seen it several times. But I want to see it again in this really nice gallery, which commissions special works from designers and architects. I’m sure the team of Fabrica will make a special and very good installation there. Valerie Traan Gallery, 12 Reyndersstraat, Antwerp, www.valerietraan.be WALTER VAN BEIRENDONCK: DREAM THE WORLD AWAKE

Antwerp is a great city. While I’m there to see Objet préféré, I’ll also visit the Walter Van Beirendonck retrospective. I think Walter is the greatest of our fashion designers. MoMu, 28 Nationalestraat, Antwerp, until Feb 19, www.momu.be ARSÈNE 50 With a family and busy professional life, it isn’t always easy to plan theatre outings in advance. I prefer to buy tickets on the spur of the moment and at half-price. The selection at Arsène 50 is quite good and includes small productions that are well worth discovering. BIP, 2-4 Rue Royale, Brussels, www.arsene50.be GEORGES DANDIN IN AFRIKA

This is one play I’m going to be sure to reserve seats for in advance. Théâtre Le Public, 6470 Rue Braemt, Brussels, until Dec 31, www. theatrelepublic.be TOEGEPAST 16: LES NOU-

An annual show of young designers with new ideas in graphic design, textiles, 2 jewellery, etc. Always great! Z33, 33 Zuivelmarkt Hasselt, until Feb 5, www.z33.be VEAUX

Flemish art is among my favourites and I greatly admire the Groeninge Museum collection. I will certainly visit this exhibition because it is not often that we can see all those masterpieces together. Groeninge Museum, Bruges, until Jan 15, www.imperialtreasures.be MUSEUM

I have a deep personal attachment to Brazil. At the inauguration of Europalia, I saw that Brazilian President DilmaRousseff was moved when I referred to Brazil as a ‘cultural volcano’. And that is what this country really is. Building on its amazing cultural diversity and vitality, it has not only a great heritage but also one of today’s most vibrant cultural scenes. Bozar, until Jan 15, and ING Cultural Centre, 6 Place Royale, Brussels, until Feb 12, www.europalia.eu BRAZIL.BRASIL AND ART IN BRAZIL 1950-2011 AND TERRA BRASILIS

CENDRILLON JULES MASSENET’S OPERA IN A NEW PRODUCTION BY LAURENT PELLY

As part of the regular audience of La Monnaie, I share the pride and delight that come with its being named Opera House of the Year. I intend to see Cendrillon before Christmas. La Monnaie, Place de la Monnaie, Dec 9-29, www.lamonnaie.be CESENA I strongly recommend this production by Anne Teresa De

Keersmaeker, which I saw at La Monnaie in November. She is always exploring new possibilities in contemporary dance. deSingel, 25 Desguinlei, Antwerp, Dec 17-20, www.desingel.be 4 Architect Christian Kieckens lives and works in Brussels, and teaches in Antwerp DONALD JUDD FURNITURE The endless beauty of Judd’s thinking about

form and abstraction, now available in an unlimited edition of furniture. Greta Meert Gallery, 13Rue du Canal, Brussels, until Jan 14, www.gretameert.com Exibition in a gallery that has everything to recommend it: concept, space, choice of objects, nice back garden, great owner. Galerie Valerie Traan, 12 Reyndersstraat, Antwerp, until Jan 21, www.valerietraan.be OBJET PRÉFÉRÉ

125 years of well-thought-out industrial design for a single product that’s known by 95 percent of the world’s population. Design Museum, 5 Jan Breydelstraat, Ghent, until Feb 26 http://design.museum.gent.be COCA-COLA

Looped projection of an outstanding film by an outstanding conceptual artist, Peter Downsbrough, in a 1940s railroad station. Brussels-Congrès station, 40 Boulevard Pachéco, Brussels, until Jan 25 www.jonction.be OCCUPIED

Braeckman’s monumental photographic oeuvre gives onto a closed world, suggesting stories without illusionistic references. Museum M, 28 Vanderkelenstraat, Leuven, until Jan 8, www.mleuven.be DIRK BRAECKMAN

GALLERIET Small space dedicated to Danish-Flemish design, which

has its roots in the industrial heritage of nearby Winterslag. More than an exclusively object-centred gallery, Galleriet has devised its programme with regard to the diversity of the local population. 128Vennestraat, Genk, www.galleriet.be


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Lifestyle & Community

Bottoms up!

BELGIAN BEER GUIDE: If your knowledge of Belgian beer starts at Stella Artois and ends at Duvel, shame on you. There are well over a thousand varieties of Belgian beer available and 1,131 of them are featured in the latest version of All Belgian Beers by Hilde Deweer. This trilingual Belgian beer encyclopaedia, published by Stichting Kunstboek, is now in its second edition and features 500 more beers than the 2007 version. Each beer is listed in alphabetical order and features a colour picture of both its unique glass and bottle, plus information in English, French and Dutch on everything from the beer style to the taste notes and serving suggestions. The perfect Christmas gift for beer lovers and Belgophiles alike. All Belgian Beers is available for â‚Ź35 from all good bookshops. www.stichtingkunstboek.com


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Up my Street

And all that jazz Singer Gyle Waddy lives close to one of the most sought-after addresses in Brussels – Avenue Louise by katrien lindemans photos by dieter telemans

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t’s probably no coincidence that Gyle Waddy lives off Avenue Louise, one of the best fashion streets in Brussels. In another life, the jazz singer and music teacher used to work as a model. Born in Philadelphia 68 years ago, he studied dance and theatre at the City College of Dance in Los Angeles and the Carnegie Hall School of Dance in New York before taking up work as a model to make ends meet. His career took him to Milan, where he worked for Versace and Valentino. In 1979, he moved to Brussels to live with his partner and a year later, he was featured as the first black model in women’s magazine Flair before going on to model for Antwerp fashion legend Walter Van Beirendonck. In 2000, Gyle and his partner Felix moved to a new place just off the Louise Square in an area known as ‘le goulet Louise’, or the Louise bottleneck, because of the traffic. “It’s a great apartment and I’ve just turned one of the rooms into my music studio, where I give singing classes.” The prestigious Avenue Louise – named after King Leopold II’s oldest daughter – is about 3km long, and connects Louise Square all the way to the Bois de la Cambre. It was constructed in 1847 as a promenade, and while the first part of the Avenue is paved with nothing but expensive shops such as Louise 54, Max Mara and JM Weston, Gyle knows a few good places to get something to eat after working up an appetite shopping. “One of my favourite places to go is l’Atelier de Jean (20 Rue du Grand Cerf). It serves a lovely mix of French and Italian cuisine at a decent price. I’m particularly fond of its grilled fish. A few doors up, Restaurant JB is known for its typical Belgian food but it isn’t cheap.” However, the restaurant, run by Freddy Van Ruyskensvelde and his two sons since 1987, is worth a try for its sauces alone, even if the roast partridge, which is one of their specialities, will set you back €40. But not all the eating options in the area are so pricey. “One of my food sins is to take home some baked chicken at Hector’s (6 Avenue de la Toison d’Or ),” Gyle admits. For other cheap eats, he suggests The Coffee Club (131 Rue de Stassart) where “they serve a lovely English and American breakfast. And for sandwiches and tea, we tend to go to La Crémerie de la Vache (6 Rue Jean Stas).” If you just want to stop for a drink, Gyle recommends

the spacious Brasserie Poelaert (2 Rue des Quatres Bras). “I also like MacSweeney’s pub (26 Rue Jean Stas), with its cosy wooden compartments. Cocktail bar Mini Louise (3 Rue Jourdan) is great too.” As an ex-model, Gyle still enjoys window shopping at the fancy boutiques in and around Avenue Louise. The area has recently seen a number of high-profile openings, including luxury shoe brand Jimmy Choo (53 Boulevard de Waterloo), French fashion outlets Bel Air, Maje and Sud Express (all in the Louise Gallery), American hipster clothes store Urban Outfitters (6 Place Stéphanie), the newly renovated Senteurs d’Ailleurs with its high-end perfumes, potions and lotions (1A Place Stéphanie), and fresh handmade cosmetics shop Lush (52 Avenue Louise). “When I go shopping, though, I prefer to check out the DOD outlet stores (www.dod. be) in and around Avenue Louise. They have great stuff at reasonable prices.” Another shop in the area that Gyle is particularly fond of is cooking supply store Dille & Kamille (16 Rue Jean Stas). “I love cooking. Back in 1981 I even wrote a vegetarian cook book,” Gyle reveals. “It never got published, though – and I am no longer a vegetarian!”

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s a musician with five albums in his catalogue (his latest, Tell Me the Meaning, is out now on Elyts Music and is available on iTunes), Gyle says he wishes there was more of a musical presence in the area. “Things used to be different though – there was the Golden Gate music club in the Louise shopping gallery,” he remembers. “And I also used to work as a choreographer for a strip club off Place Stéphanie. But the only musical reference I can think of now is multi-media shop Fnac (17 Avenue de la Toison d’Or).” But even if there aren’t any obvious sources of musical inspiration, the area itself remains quite special to Gyle. “There’s something liberating about the open space of the Louise and Stéphanie squares, and of course the vast view from Place Poelaert. The Egmont park with its lovely l’Orangerie tearoom next to The Hotel (38 Boulevard de Waterloo) is a fantastic green spot as well. You could almost forget that you are in one of the busiest areas of the city.” 

ESSENTIAL INFORMATION PROPERTY

Apartments on Avenue Louise are very spacious, and therefore quite pricey. Renting an apartment of 100m2 can easily cost €1,500 a month. And to buy, prices per square metre start at around €3,000, according to estate agents Agence O (www. ocestbeau.be) TRANSPORT

Public transport is plentiful at the beginning of Avenue Louise. As well as Villo rental bikes, there’s a stop on metro lines 2 and 6, and tram lines 92, 94 and 97. Finding a parking spot isn’t easy, but there are a couple of underground car parks nearby MEET THE NEIGHBOURS

A mix of affluent Belgians and Eurocrats with a bit of social housing mixed in, although not so many families as most of the properties have no garden FOR MORE INFORMATION

For shopping, eating, drinking and events on Avenue Louise, visit www. brusselslouise.be


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Gyle says: “From fancy boutiques to a photocopy shop, the area has got just about everything. It’s like a city centre away from the actual city centre of Brussels. I love the open space and the diversity of people. The traffic maze of the Louise roundabout and tunnel are a nightmare, though.”

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Nearby shopping street where you’ll find everything from Tommy Hilfiger to Hema

Only Brussels branch of the charming Dutch home store 16 Rue Jean Stas

AVENUE TOISON D’OR

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MACSWEENEY’S

Popular Irish pub offering raucous Saturday night fun and tasty Sunday morning breakfasts 24 Rue Jean Stas 3.

SHOWING OFF

Belgians are usually a discreet lot but some throw caution to the wind on Avenue Louise

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DILLE & KAMILLE

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URBAN OUTFITTERS

Newly opened American fashion store 6 Place Stéphanie 6.

L’ORANGERIE

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For brunch, lunch or afternoon tea in the stunning surroundings of the Egmont Park www.restaurationnouvelle.be More guides on www.thebulletin.be

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CAPITAL LIFE Your city, your agenda Fashion designer Céline De Schepper, 23, moved to Brussels from Sint-Niklaas to study fashion. Why did you decide to study fashion? I originally wanted to be a fashion journalist but I wanted to experience fashion for myself rather than just writing about it. And why Brussels? I saw an end-of-year show at La Cambre and I was completely blown away. It was very creative

My diary SATURDAY DECEMBER

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but at the same time wearable. I also liked their personal approach; they only select 24 or 25 students per year as opposed to 60 or 70 students at Antwerp. Antwerp is known as Belgium’s fashion capital; do you think Brussels offers any competition? The more I talk to people the more I realise that people are starting to turn their heads towards Brussels – not just in fashion but also music and arts. I feel like Brussels is starting to offer a counter-balance to Antwerp. You can really feel the evolution.

Brazilian From Céline photography De Schepper’s on showSadness at Bozar is a Colour collection

PEINTURE FRAÎCHE

In search of some new art books, a stop at my favourite bookshop. 10 Rue du Tabellion

TUESDAY DECEMBER

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THURSDAY DECEMBER

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GOUPIL LE FOL

WEDNESDAY DECEMBER

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SUBMARINE

This shop has an amazing selection of designers and design objects – including some of my pieces! Plus a great atmosphere. 17 Rue des Chartreux www.huntingandcollecting.com

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What’s next for Céline De Schepper? Well, you can find some of my pieces at Hunting and Collecting and also JOPA Editions, but I only graduated this year so I’m still thinking about my next move. Either I will go to Paris and work for a fashion house or I will continue with my collaborations and projects here.

Where time stands still and provides an ideal moment to sit, relax and talk with some friends while enjoying the music of Jacques Brel and a glass of fruit wine. 22 Rue de la Violette

HUNTING AND COLLECTING

WEDNESDAY DECEMBER

What defines Brussels style? It’s quite open so I can’t really point out a specific style – it’s a little bit Berlin, a little bit London. But ultimately it’s about freedom of expression – people can wear what they like here.

A little escape from reality with this gem of a film from British director Richard Ayoade. Cinema Arenberg, 26 Galérie de la Reine, www.arenberg.be

FRIDAY DECEMBER

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SUNDAY DECEMBER

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CHATELAIN MARKET

JOPA EDITIONS

BOZAR

A little gourmet food shopping in my old neighbourhood. I’ll have a hot piadina and a fresh vanilla waffle while searching for my dinner ingredients. Place du Châtelain

I’m presenting a limited-edition collection of wooden bracelets and handbags exclusively at JOPA Editions. 28 Rue Lens www.jopaeditions.com

I like spending Sunday afternoons in Bozar, discovering the exhibitions. This time: Roman Polanski. 23 Rue Ravenstein,www.bozar.be

MONDAY DECEMBER

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PASTEL DE NATA

When I was in Lisbon I ate lots of custard tarts but the best pastel de nata are made at a great Portuguese bakery here in Brussels. Le Petit Forcado 190c Chaussée de Waterloo

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