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  • seandodson 11:47 am on July 3, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: antique, brussels, flea market, , market, , Place du Jeu-de-Balle,   

    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.

  • seandodson 2:44 pm on July 2, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , art trail, belgium, brussels, brussels mural, , , , Hergé, , , tin tin,   

    Brussels’ art trail helps city shake off Eurocratic image 

    Let’s face it, Brussels has been painted as a stuffy sort of town. I’ve always whizzed through the Belgium capital en route to somewhere ostensibly more interesting. But recently I had been given a whole day to explore the city and I was thoroughly impressed with the place, not least the excellent working-class district of Marolles where I came across this fabulous art trail of mural paintings (above) by the city’s famous comic book artists. There’s apparently about 30 of them dotted around the city (there’s a semi-useful map here) , including work by Hergé, the inventor of Tin Tin. This kind of alternative art trail is an inspired way of encouraging you to explore the city’s lesser-known quarters. In seeking them out, you see that Brussels is far from the stuffy place you’re often led to imagine.

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