Four years ago B and I were both living and working in Paris, going on our little week-end trips around France and never even giving a thought to our neighboring country in the North. Then B started going quite often to Brussels for his work bringing back home chocolates from Pierre Marcolini or biscuits from Maison Dandoy and my interest started growing towards this city of french fries and art deco. Soon after I booked a week-end trip for us to spend the Valentine’s day in Brussels. As usual we went there without a specific plan or even a map and just wandered around admiring the architecture and tasting local specialities. In the evening it was very cold when we stepped out from our hotel and started to look for a restaurant. Nearby we found Chinese restaurant, another Chinese and an Irish pub… Not good. B started to be cranky because I wanted to keep walking in the dark hoping of finding something even a bit interesting and obviously I didn’t have a clue where we were going. We ended up in some dark back streets of Avenue Louise, at this point B had stopped talking to me, when suddenly I saw a dim light far away on a side street. And there it was, Les Brassins, a Belgian bistro exactly as we like it!
The restaurant is cozy and I love the decor with old beer ads on the walls. The customers are a mix of locals that look like they’ve been going there for generations and some tourists too. The menu is perfect with a good variety of traditional dishes such as shrimp croquettes or rabbit in a cherry beer sauce and modern bistro food like filet mignon or Brassins burger. The beer menu is wide and the draught beer is called Silly!
Ever since this restaurant has become the place where we often take our guests visiting Brussels or when we want to celebrate special occasions. And of course each time we think about that Valentine’s day 4 years ago and the fact how we didn’t have a clue that a year from it we would have a second home in Belgium!
Rue Keyenveld 36
+32 2 512 69 99
Christmas lights in Maastricht
I am a big fan of this small Dutch town and I love to go there on Sundays when all the shops are open and the streets are buzzing.
Last Sunday we took the car from Brussels and drove to Maastricht in early afternoon. It is only one hour drive and as soon as you get to the city center there are big parking halls to easily park your car. Once we tried to leave the car on the street but we ended up turning around for 45 minutes without finding a a spot so now we pay the 8 Euro fee for the afternoon without a question! I would especially recommend the Mosae Forum parking hall which is in the heart of the city and under a shopping mall.
We arrived around 3 pm and were hungry so we started to look for a restaurant to have late lunch. It is not difficult to find a place to eat in Maastricht because it is the city with most of restaurants per square mettre in Holland! So which one to choose… We ended up going to Cafe Charlemagne in a beautiful square of Onze Lieve Vrouweplein and I had some pasta with scampis and B took Bratwurst with mashed potatoes. What’s nice in Holland in comparison to Paris is that you can eat what you want when you want not regarding is it the proper lunch time or not. In Paris it is sometimes so difficult to find a restaurant for late lunch and even if you find one to get served without “an attitude”. Here is Cafe Charlemagne the atmosphere was relaxed, the decor was nice and typical Dutch with wooden floors and tables and the prices were abordable.
View from the Cafe Charlemagne
After a nice lunch we went to see some of my favorite shops including Festen for notebooks, jewellery, gifts and they also have a café in the store, Retro and Chic for the really inspiring decor and exquisite vintage fashion (by the way the sales personnel is extremely elegant and super nice there),’t Stokpeerdsje home decor shop in a really cute alley and last but not least De Tuinen bio store for super foods and herbal teas with very nice prices.
So many nice cafés and restaurants there…
At the end of our shopping spree we headed to the The Vrijthof square Christmas market for some mulled wine and hot chocolate and it was perfect ending for our Christmas shopping day in Maastricht.