Love the circular economy? Is your favourite indulgence a snack after an evening of board games? And the donkeys, oh yes the donkeys. Well then, Schaerbeek is a perfect match for you.
Schaerbeek is a densely populated municipality, lively and vibrant, a blend of middle class and more working-class districts where people of many different nationalities and generations brush shoulders. With a little over 130,000 residents from some 140 countries, the influences are many. In the south, you will find young professionals tired of the excessively trendy municipalities. In the north, the more multicultural districts allow you to meet people from different backgrounds. And for those who are interested, the municipality is also the home of the little Brussels Red Light District, near the Gare du Nord.
Those who have decided to take up residence there have no doubt: Schaerbeek is the district where everyone will be falling over themselves to live in five years. The areas around Plasky, Place Dailly and Parc Josaphat are undergoing intense development. New cool bars and restaurants are opening every day to satisfy this jovial community that all long to see the district given a fresh lease on life.
However, if you truly wish to understand the Schaerbeek spirit, you should head to the Place des Chasseurs Ardennais market on Friday afternoons. The young, the old, kids and pretty much everybody wanders around the stalls which sell fresh groceries, while others settle down for drinks or a cosy afterwork party, far from the hype and people in a rush.
This immense park is the jewel of the municipality. It was designed in the spirit of English-style promenades, at once classy and relaxing. You go there for a run in green surroundings or a siesta to go bright red (we did warn you not to forget your hardcore sunblock!). The tree-covered alleys conceal magnificent sculptures dedicated to a wide range of artists and – weather permitting – the park also becomes a theatre for musical and cultural events and even balls.
Good to know: Schaerbeek used to be known as the “City of Donkeys”, and you can still find some roaming in the park (we will leave you to discover the delightful urban legend behind this on your own).
Due to its mix of cultures, you won’t get bored with the food, and you won’t have any trouble finding a shop open at 3 a.m. There is truly something of everything: Turkish and Lebanese restaurants, Moroccan bakeries, Polish night shops and Italian pizzerias. We haven’t done the calculations, but it is probably the municipality with the highest number of snack bars per square metre!
A chance to sample the famous “dürums” (or kebabs) and – if you are feeling VERY hungry – to switch to the big guns with the “mitraillette”. This is a large piece of baguette covered in sauce (a lot of sauce), meat, salad and – as a final touch – a mountain of frites. All you need to do now is choose your sauce, boss.
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