The official start of summer yesterday got me thinking about picnics. There’s something wonderful about the idea of filling a basket with treats and spreading out with friends on a blanket in the sun. Somehow however things never quite work out quite as picturesquely as I’ve imaged. Napkins blow away in the wind, food ends up on the ground and my dog always tries to steal the baguette, and of course, this being Belgium, the chance of rain is high. But nonetheless the idea of the perfect picnic always trumps the voice of experience. So with a positive outlook (on the weather as well), here are some of my best picks for picnic spots and supplies in Brussels.
Ixelles ponds and Place Flagey farmers market
The Etangs d’Ixelles (Ixelles ponds) isn’t really a park, but still a nice green spot in Brussels where you can hopefully find a bench to enjoy a snack. Alternatively, walk a bit further to the Parc du Roi or l’Abbaye if you want to stretch out on some grass. For food stop by the farmers market held every Saturday and Sunday morning (closes around 2pm) at Place Flagey. You can find delicious chicken, quiche, cheese, charcuterie, fruit and much more (see my previous post here on the market for my favorite stands). For drinks pop in to the Carrefour Express on the corner with Rue Lesbroussart.
Parc d’Egmont and Claire Fontaine
Hidden between The Hotel and the Petit Sablon, Parc d’Egmont is one of the best little parks in Brussels. You can access it from either Boulevard de Waterloo or from Rue aux Laines. It’s pretty quiet most days so is a great place to have a quick bite or linger for an afternoon. I recommend picking up something to eat at Claire Fontaine just off the Sablon. Barely large enough for a few customers, this is a great (but tiny!) delicatessen jammed packed with all sorts of foodie delights and picnic supplies (salads, sandwiches, tarts, etc). Claire herself is usually there to welcome you with a smile. My blogger friend Katrien over at Bruxelles la Belle recently reviewed the shop which you can read here. If you’re not up for a picnic, you can always sit down for a proper meal at L’Orangerie in the park which serves a nice weekend brunch.
Bois de la Cambre and Delhaize
When with a group of friends, head to Bois de la Cambre where you can spend the day and have lots of room for eating and lounging about. This big park begins at the top of Avenue Louise and extends until the Forêt de Soignes and has a large pond and several walking paths. It can become rather crowded on a sunny, warm day, but it’s still a great spot. When you’re feeding a crowd, stock up on basic picnic food at Delhaize (closest to the park are on Chaussée de Boondael or Chaussée de Waterloo, or the small Delhaise Shop’n go on the corner of Avenue Louise and Rue Vilain XIIII which is open on Sunday).
Woluwe and Rob’s
Parc de Woluwe is nestled between Avenue de Tervueren and Boulevard du Souverain and is often less crowded than Bois de la Cambre. Frequented by locals in the area, it boasts a lovely pond with ducks and swans (which my dog once chased all the way into the water!). If cost is no issue, pick up some picnic food at the gourmet grocery Rob on Boulevard de la Woluwe. This store is filled with all sorts of specialty items, with lots of prepared dishes, meats and cheeses to choose from and a good wine selection. It is on the pricey side so not the place to go for a large group.
One more option if you’re not in the mood to prepare your own picnic is to join the Brusselicious PiQniQ, a touring prêt-à-manger picnic set up in a different park each Sunday during the summer. Baskets full of food, drinks and other necessities are on sale. The next one is this weekend at Parc de la Woluwe. You only need to bring along a blanket!
Images via Ipernity and Brussels Pictures.