City Center Gift Shops (Self Guided), Brussels

It would be a pity to leave Brussels without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. We've compiled a list of gifts and souvenirs, which are unique to Brussels, that a visitor might like to purchase to reflect their visit. All shops are located within a pleasant walking distance, in Central Brussels.
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City Center Gift Shops Map

Guide Name: City Center Gift Shops
Guide Location: Belgium » Brussels (See other walking tours in Brussels)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 13
Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.7 km
Author: Daniel

1) Stijl

What to buy here: Belgian haute couture.

Maybe you haven’t noticed, but some of the most respected clothes designers in the world are Belgian-born. Dries van Nooten, Ann Demeulemeester and Walter van Beirendonck are all regular participants of the Paris Fashion week.

Even though most of these designers are from Antwerp, they use the luxurious Rue Antoine Dansaert in the center of Brussels to display their latest creations. However, most of the assembled ateliers and boutiques also carry products by foreign designers, and only Stijl has transformed itself over the years into the true hub of Belgian haute couture. Each designer has been assigned a number of square meters in its spacious warehouse-like showroom, where Dries van Nooten and Ann Demeulemeester dominate the floor space. Design doesn’t come cheap at Stijl, where suits from Dirk van Noten priced between 800 and 1000 euros. But if you’re looking for something exclusive, Stijl is the way to go.

Open: Mon - Sat (10:30-18:30), Closed: Sun.

2) A.M.Sweet

What to buy here: Belgian candy. Belgium’s best kept secret is a sugar bomb. The cuberdon, a cone-shaped sweet with a gooey inside and crackly outside, is almost exclusively sold on the Belgian market. It’s not like Belgian pastry houses refuse to sell abroad, but the vicar’s hats, as the French-speakers affectionately call them, simply go bad before they make it to your local candy store.

The recipe for cuberdons was almost wiped out during World War II. The shortage of gum arabic, one of the key ingredients, made the production of cuberdons practically impossible. After the war, several chefs with a sweet tooth and a good memory, made sure the recipe wasn’t lost forever.

A classic cuberdon has a raspberry flavor, but these days you can find over 25 different fragrances and all the colors you can imagine. Real, artisanal cuberdons are a common sight at local markets, but there is not a lot of stores that carry them. In the Brussels center, the tiny tearoom A.M. Sweet has a candy section where you can find the original raspberry cuberdons (2, 80 euros a bag). It’s also a great place to catch your breath and have a spot of lunch. It’s best to pass by at the end of your stay, since the thick syrup inside the cuberdons will lose its texture after only three weeks.

Open : Tue 12:00 - 18:30; Wed-Sat 9:30 - 18:30, Closed : Sun-Mon.

3) Brüsel

What to buy here: Belgian comic books. Just like in Japan, it’s perfectly normal to see a Belgian adult reading a comic book in public. Comic books are bestsellers here, with a staggering amount of titles catering to all age categories. Since Belgium is bilingual, each language part has developed separate styles, but they all come together in the capital of Brussels. Throughout the center you can find gigantic comic book murals, and the city is home to a comic book museum worth visiting.

Of course, there are tons of comics for sale in Brussels, up to a point that it gets hard to decide which store to pick. We settled on Brüsel, a centrally located vendor that caters to both the uninitiated as the comic book geek. They also act as publishing house for local talent and offer original art works on the first floor.

Of course, you will find the usual suspects here like TinTin, Asterix or Lucky Luke, but we decided to go for an artist that is extremely popular in the Franco-Belgian world. For almost thirty years, Philippe Geluck, a Brussels comedian, has been using Le Chat (The Cat) to explain the world in witty punch lines. With God Save the Cat (12, 50 euros) his drawings have been translated into English. If you want, you can also pick up Le Chat merchandise at Brüsel like mugs and saucers. If you get a chance to, visit a local supermarket for a box of genuine The Cat-cookies.

Open: Mon - Sat (10:30 – 18:30), Sun (12:00-18:30)
Herboristerie Moderne

4) Herboristerie Moderne

What to buy here: wellness products, medicinal or aromatic teas and spices.

Celebrities like Sting and Moby have been raving lately over a special ginger tea called Ginger Love. The hype around the hot drink reached a new peak when Starbucks briefly considered adding it to its menu.

So what’s all the fuzz about? Ginger Love, a foamy herbal tea with citrus fruit and ginger, contains neither caffeine nor theine and supposedly does wonders for the immune system and potency. It was created by the chef of Lombardia, a renowned vegan restaurant in the Belgian city of Antwerp.

If you don’t want to make the detour, the only place in Brussels where you’ll find Ginger Love is at L’Herboristerie Moderne, a small and cozy store close to Bourse. In the French-speaking world, an herboristerie is the ancient equivalent of the pharmacy, where herbal medicine is sold instead of chemicals.

Besides Ginger Love (10, 50 euros a box) you can find a wide range of medicinal or aromatic spices at L’Herboristerie Moderne, including health products like essential oils, teas and massage oils.

Open: Mon-Sat (11:00-13:00 14:00-18:00); Closed: Sun.

5) Dandoy

Since 1829 the Dandoy biscuiterie produces delightful traditional Belgian specialties. These delicious biscuits are totally handmade, after recipes that are family secrets and have been handed down from one generation to the next over a period of two hundred years or thereabouts. A box with tasty Dandoy biscuits will remind you of Brussels once you are back home. Dandoy is open Monday - Saturday 8:30 - 19:00; Sunday 10:30 - 19:00.
Boutique Tintin

6) Boutique Tintin (must see)

Tintin comics are a part of Belgian heritage like Victor Horta's masterpieces or Rene Magritte’s famous paintings. Those who are fond of comics must definitely visit the Tintin boutique on Grand Place. Here you can find the comics translated into 50 languages, various prints, bags, clothes, rugs and watches and other Tintin merchandise. Also, you can choose from a huge collection of toys themed on the cartoon that will make every child happy.

You can find a new Galerie Tintin in the Place du Grand Sablon 35 – well worth the visit also.

Opening Hours:
Mon: 12-6pm; Tue-Sat: 10am-6pm; Sun: 11am-5pm

7) Marjolaine

Marjolaine is a shop in Centre Ville, Brussels, located at 7 Rue de la Madeleine. It specialises in collectible toys and antique gifts. Among the sold items here are old baskets, vintage lace, tons of colourful and unique jewellery, as well as small and cute boxes, various interesting fabrics and charming dolls. This store is a perfect place to choose a gift for your kids.

Operation Hours Wednesday: 2:00 pm - 6:00 pm; Thursday - Saturday: 12:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Royal Galleries of Saint-Hubert

8) Royal Galleries of Saint-Hubert (must see)

The Royal Galleries of Saint-Hubert are an excellent example of a covered shopping gallery that dates back to 19th century. Seven of these shopping galleries were built in Brussels in between the 1820s and 1830s. The St. Hubert Gallery is one of three that still survive today. The architect for the gallery was Jean-Pierre Cluysenaar and it officially opened in 1847. The two primary sections of the gallery are called the King’s Gallery and the Queen’s Gallery. They measure 8 meters (26 feet) wide and 213 meters (699 feet) long. A smaller section was dubbed the Prince’s Gallery.

The concept of a gallery, such as St. Hubert, dates back to Paris in the 1780s. King Louis XIV, who was having financial problems, rented portions of his garden to shopkeepers. They constructed little shops to sell their wares. These little shops attracted many people and they became a de facto meeting place. Later, this concept of a shopping/gathering place evolved into the covered galleries, which were intended for richer classes. Today the St. Hubert Gallery has luxurious boutiques and shops as well as cafes and restaurants that offer dining in the gallery corridors. One particular standout is the Neuhaus confectioners shop, which opened in 1857.

Why You Should Visit:
Only a small gallery but grand architecture; lots of shops that look expensive but are pretty well priced.
High-end chocolate does cost but if you want to indulge this is the place to find a good selection.

Go to the top floor of "Le Pain Quotidien" for a view from the upper side.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Manufacture Belge de Dentelles S.A.

9) Manufacture Belge de Dentelles S.A.

What to buy here: Belgian old fashion lace. Once upon a time, little old Belgium was the epicenter of the lace trade. Back in those days, the precious material was only used to adorn the gowns of clergymen and royalty, but over the ages each country adopted its own style until it became a commodity.

Most of the lace production has become entirely Made in China, but in Belgium there is still a small group of workers who continue to uphold the age-old tradition of handmade lace embroidery.

It’s highly labor-intensive: a small piece of the spidery fabric will take a worker around 85 hours. Belgium employs around 1.000 lacemakers, all women between their fifties and eighties.

One of the oldest lacemaking families in Belgium can be found in the Galerie de la Reine, where five generations have kept alive the many local styles Belgium has to offer. Of course, there are coasters, breadbaskets and small keepsakes for sale at Manufacture Belge de Dentelles, but their framed original patterns are really works of art: unique, refined and pricey.

In between the useful and the artful, we found these beautiful hand fans, available in either black or white. You can pick up the small ones for 49, 50 euros; the bigger ones will set you back 74, 25 euros. Since Manufacture Belge de Dentelles also sells a small number of factory-produced hand fans, you can see the difference in quality for yourself.

Open : Mon - Sat (9:00-18:00), Sun (10:00-16:00)
Délices & Caprices

10) Délices & Caprices

What to buy here: Belgian beer. What other way to start this shopping list than a fine Belgian beer?

Brewing runs in the Belgian’s blood. The country may be best known for its six ancient Trappist brewing monasteries, but they are joined by an ever growing number of microbreweries. The choice is overwhelming, the overall quality high. As this is a Brussels guide, we selected a specialty beer of one of its most popular local breweries: Brasserie de la Senne. The two owners, who started out brewing out of their basement, are popular in a growing number of local bars for their Zinnebir and Taras Boulba. This Jambe de Bois Triple has a little more punch to it, and is better suited to drink on a special occasion.

You can find Jambe de Bois Triple (2, 75 euros for a bottle) at the small specialty beer shop Délices et Caprices close to the Galerie de la Reine. Don’t forget to pick up one of the accompanying glasses (5 euros), and let the owner school you on Belgian’s finest, as he is a walking beer encyclopedia. For special occasions, Délices et Caprices organizes special tasting sessions for groups. If you’re in town a bit longer, don’t pass up the opportunity.

Open: Mo, Thu - Sun (14:00-20:00), Closed: Tue - Wed

Phone: 0032 (0)25121451
Maison Halter Ethnics

11) Maison Halter Ethnics

Maison Halter Ethnics is a lofty shop situated at Galerie du Roi no.28 in Centre-Ville, Brussels. Among other things it has on offer are an exceptional collection of ethnic jewellery - silver and golden rings, bracelets, necklaces, pendants and others - representing various cultures, including Oceania, Central Asia, India and other parts of the world. The shop is owned by Michel Halter, an established jewellery dealer with over 25 years of experience, who is also a renowned member of the Belgian Experts Association (ABEX)
Val Saint Lambert

12) Val Saint Lambert

What to buy here: Belgian glassware. Instead of buying a present that says ‘I went to Brussels and all I got was this lousy t-shirt’, how about you get something the Belgian royal family might have on their coffee table?

Handmade crystal ornaments from the small Wallonian village Val Saint Lambert have been a Belgian calling card since the eighteenth century, but in the last decades the small factory faced near crippling economic hardship.

In 2008, a rich wine family took over and restored the brand to its former glory with heavy marketing campaigns and collaborations with respected industrial designers. Val Saint Lambert has produced pieces for European Council president Herman van Rompuy, and is the official glassware supplier of King Albert II.

You can find Val Saint Lambert vases, bowls and decorative items in over forty countries, but the Brussels flagship store really focuses on its Belgian heritage. We chose this beautiful bowl (195 euros) from the Kaleido-collection, as it is crafted by Brussels designer Charles Kaisin, but also because it fits snugly in your suitcase. There are plenty other of frail beauties to be found over at the Galeries Royal Saint-Hubert, close to the Grand Place. Ask to triple-wrap your purchase: this is not the kind of glassware you want to break on your way back home.

Open : Mon – Sat (10:00-13:00 – 14 :00-18 :30), Closed : Sun.
Le Roi Du Cigare

13) Le Roi Du Cigare

What to buy here: cigars. Yes, we know it isn’t allowed anymore to smoke in bars and restaurants in most western countries, including Belgium. But we’ll gladly step outside to enjoy a fat, juicy after-dinner cigar.

Even though the Cuban is still the king of cigars, Nicaragua has been making a name for itself with its great leaf quality and favorable prices. The Nicarao brand is entirely produced in the South-American country, but the blend is a Belgian invention. Didier Houvenaghel studied to become a tobacco agronomist in Cuba, and spent years researching a book on how the world’s best cigars are produced. The Nicarao is the result of his hands-on knowledge, and is praised for being one of the best non-Cuban cigar brands in the world.

At Le Roi du Cigare (king of cigars), Nicarao is one of the premium brands for sale. For the price of a carton of cigarettes, you will only be able to afford a box of ten Nicarao Minutos (47 euros), but you can easily double that amount for a similar amount of Cubans, which Le Roi Du Cigare sells in great variety. Other than cigars, this well-established house for smokers carries wide range of pipes, cigar cutters, lighters and pipes in its gorgeous monumental building a stone’s throw away from Brussels Central Station.

Open: Mon - Fri (09:30-18:00), Sat (09:30-13:00), Closed: Sun.

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