Street art in Rue Chaufferette in Brussels gay quarter
My secret Valentine's Day
7 romantic ideas
It may not be known as a city of love, but Brussels has a secret romantic side if you know where to look. Here is My Secret Brussels’ personal selection of romantic places to buy flowers or chocolates or dinner for two on 14 February. Plus one song to add to your playlist if it all goes wrong.
1. A VISIT TO THE WIERTZ MUSEUM
A French travel magazine once listed the Wiertz Museum as one of the most beautiful muséums in the world. It's also one of the most annoying museums in the world. It is closed at weekends and also over lunch. So if you are a working person then your chances of entering the building are virtually nil.
But there is one way it can be done. The museum will open at weekends for groups of more than 15 people. So here is the plan. You simply have to let me know if you would like to visit the museum and I will hold onto your details. Once 15 strangers have signed up for a tour, the visit can be booked.
2. METROPOLE BAR
The Metropole bar on Place de Brouckère is once again one of the most stylish spots in town. Many famous people have sat in the glittering 19th century interior surrounded by marble, gilt and mirrors. It closed down a year ago for renovation work, but it reopened at the end of last month looking refreshed and a little more welcoming. Here is the perfect place to sit with a coffee on a Saturday afternoon among elderly ladies with little dogs and actors from the downtown theatres.
The cool young people who live in the Dansaert district pick up gorgeous bouquets at this corner shop. Stop by for a bright bunch of yellow tulips or a beautiful orchid in a pale blue pot.
4. JOUR DE FETE
Virginie Monu has brought a fabulous party mood to a neglected part of town with her quirky new lunch restaurant. Decorated in vintage Fifties style with multicoloured walls, formica furniture and potted plants, Jour de Fête is a fun place to have lunch with a friend. Best to book a table soon because it is likely to fill up quickly on 14 February.
5. THE RIDE LIFE
Follow the cool urban cyclists at ridelife.be who post a monthly online video report describing a bike adventure in Brussels. They take you on quiet cycle trails to unexpected spots around the city and stop off at friendly bars and restaurants along the way. What could be more romantic?
6. BRONTE SOCIETY
Pick up Charlotte Bronte’s Brussels novel Villette for a romantic read on 14 February. Or join the Brussels Bronte Society to immerse yourself in the literary atmosphere of 19th century Brussels. On 15 February, the Dutch writer and Bronte expert Eric Ruijssenaars is presenting a virtual walk around the demolished Brussels boarding school where Charlotte Bronte enrolled in 1842.
So it hasn’t worked out as you hoped. Too bad, but that’s the way it goes. The Belgian-Rwandan singer Stromae expressed the feeling in a hypnotic dance single called Formidable released last year after he broke up with his girlfriend. Watch the YouTube video clip filmed as he stumbled around apparently drunk one rainy May morning at 8.30 at the Louise tram stop in Brussels.
Brussels street art
Photographs: Marie-France Plissart
My secret hotel: Le Berger
Oh, la la! An old Ixelles hotel where couples once rented rooms
by the hour has been tastefully renovated.
My secret secondhand shop: Les Enfants d'Edouard
Les Enfants d'Edouard has been selling women's designer clothes at sharply reduced prices in this grand town house for the past 40 years. The men's shop, a little less grand, is next door.
Avenue Louise 175 and 177