In Summer – A Beach in Brussels
13 July, 2015
The idea is not new. For some years now, these artificial urban beaches have popped up each summer in Berlin, Hamburg and under the bridges of the river Seine in Paris. You won’t have to cram the whole family into your car, or embark on a long, hot journey to feel the sand under your feet and freshen up in the water. In Brussels, this tropical paradise is known as Les Bains de Bruxelles and it lasts for five weeks on the Quai des Péniches, along the Brussels Canal. It opens from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, and from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
True, there aren’t many waves, but some ingenuity has been applied to making the beach as attractive as possible; indeed, it draws an extremely diverse crowd of beach-goers. The 6,000 m² of sand are dotted with deck-chairs, palm trees and coconut palms, striped sunshades and beach bars serving vividly coloured cold beverages. The atmosphere is a family one during the day and sports activities include beach football, volleyball, boule and ping-pong, as well as games for young children. Pedalos and kayaks can be hired at reasonable prices on Sundays. You can also go for a ride along the canal on board the Bruxelles les Bains, which offers various tours – the short one takes 55 minutes; the longest one is a 2-hour cruise, and there is also a “cocktail cruise”, by night – while the harbour’s history and geography is expounded on by a guide.
This chill-out on the beach is accompanied by the Let It Beach festival, now in its third year. A variety of concerts liven up the evening on weekends, while on Fridays the music turns to folk, rock, pop and hip-hop. Jazz and world music take centre stage on Saturdays. The Sunday programmes target the younger set, with workshops, dances and, of course, more concerts. Night reverie is bolstered by free sessions of Croisetteke, every day from 6 p.m. on, in addition to theBoat Club,an exclusive floating club which hosts the liveliest parties in Brussels.
Not Without My Ice-cream!
When the thermometer seems to be driving endlessly upwards, another delicious way of keeping cool is to have an ice-cream. And, for those who can’t contemplate a day at the seaside without ice-cream, here are some of the best parlours in town:
Comus & Gasterea (Quai aux Briques, 86)
A place for trying the newest and most unusual flavours. It features some of the strangest ice-creams in the world, with such flavours as caviar, olive oil, Roquefort, lichi, wasabi aubergine and basil, home-made and free of additives or colouring agents. All you need is to be patient, as queues can sometimes build up outside its doors.
Capoue (Rue de Wand, 112)
Chez Capoue is one of the oldest ice-cream parlours in Brussels and, while at Comus & Gasterea you find the most unusual flavours, in Capoue they make the most daring combinations, notably bounty, blood orange and spiced bread. They are also have them sugar-free for diabetics, or lactose-free for those allergic to dairy.
Il Monello (Chaussée de Charleroi, 31 -33)
While Il Monello opened only recently, it has already made a name for itself in the city for its traditional pastries and homemade ice-creams. They also serve the latter atop a waffle for those seeking consistency (or calories).
Zizi (Rue de la Mutualité, 57A)
Zizi, a veritable institution in Brussels, is the city’s best-known ice-cream parlour. In the sixty years they have been open, they have never altered their manufacturing process. The flavours are natural and free of colouring agents.
Brussels is a refreshing destination this summer, but not only because of its urban beach. Throughout the summer, every Friday from 5 p.m. to 11.30 p.m., the Apéros Urbains or animated afterworks are held in some of the most attractive spots in the city. Also featured is the Midis Minimes classical music festival, with daily concerts lasting 35 minutes from 12.15 p.m. (until 28 August), held in the Church of Saint-Jean et Etienne aux Minimes and in the Conservatorio Real.
Come and experience it for yourself. Come on! Pick up your towel and check out the flights to… Brussels!
Text by Scanner FM
Images by Eric Danhier
13 July, 2015