Place du Jeu-de-Balle flea market: the true underbelly of Brussels

Flea markets give a picture of the real life of a city, so different from the glitzy world of the art galleries and swanky department stores. The flea market of any great city reveals its true underside and tthe Place du Jeu-de-Balle in Brussels is one of the most revealing.

According to the Economist The Jeu de Balle is the heart of the “Marolles”, a working-class neighbourhood that was built in the 17th century. “In the 19th century the factories closed down, the workers moved to the suburbs, and the Marolles was left to the poorer still.” Today it is being partially gentrified, with several smart antique shops dividing the cheap internet cafes and hardware stores. I had my bag nicked outside one its smarter cafes too, but can’t but think fondly of the place.