Brussels boasts several neighborhood markets which are quite noteworthy. However, venturing out of the city, or not wanting to fight traffic on the way in, can lead to an enjoyable morning of shopping.
While the capital of Wallonia, Wavre is a well-located town right off the 411 (exit 6), about 20 minutes from Brussels. The city center offers an abundance of shops, cafés and restaurants to suit any budget, from standard stores like Etam to high-end boutiques such as Max Mara.
|Apparently, rubbing his behind brings good luck.|
Saturday's market takes up less streets but includes a solid supply of florists, bakers and cheese-makers. I highly suggest, for entertainment sake at least, to visit the fishmonger at Wauter & Fils on Saturday. His lively personality, stories and jokes pull customers (his favorite audience) from all corners of the streets. His incredibly fresh fish and seafood guarantees a faithful clientele. You can find Wauter & Fils on Place de l'Eglise, and also on Wednesdays but without monsieur and his comedy.
Right in front of the church is now my favorite baker, Laurent Dumont. With a delicious selection of breads (the Maya being my standard), he also sells tasty and beautiful quiche, tarts and pastries. His baquettes are the closest to French baquettes I have yet to find in Belgium.
For fresh, organic produce I go to La Ferme de l'Hoste, found on Rue du Commerce just off of the Place de l'Eglise. The friendly service matches the bright and colorful produce on offer, including fresh eggs. If you're lucky, you'll be offered a bunch of mint for your patronage.
During the month of December, St. Nicolas and Père Fouetta ride their train through the town streets on Saturdays picking up passengers at la Commune and passing out candy to children.
All year round, Wavre offers special activities which include a Halloween party, a visit through the “village” of St. Nicolas, as well as Carnaval and Easter celebrations. Periodically, visitors may even find that Place Bosche has turned into a fairground of rides and cotton candy.