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Sunday in Belgium

Hey all,

I started a thread in the general Europe forum about my itinerary and there is a specific question I have about the Belgium portion. Itinerary can be seen here:

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/general-europe/thoughts-about-itinerary

The question is, I am debating about the order of Belgium and Paris in my trip. The end part of this leg covers a sunday, which would put me in Belgium on Sunday/Monday. I want to stay in Ghent at least one night, maybe two. The other would be in Brussels. Main priorities are beer and food related (chocolate shop stuff as well). Cantillon and Drie Fonteinen are musts. If I have figured out hours correctly Cantillon is closed on Sunday, but open 9-5 on Monday and Drie is open for lunch and dinner both Sunday and Monday. I assume most of the shops will be closed on Sunday?

The plan would be to spend early day in Bruges and the evening in Ghent and stay in Ghent (possibly both nights). Then the other day would be Brussels and stay in Brussels (or Back in Ghent). Would be coming from either London or Paris depending on how we decide the order (most likely Paris) so that first day would start a little later.

Any suggestions on how to order things to make it work?

Posted by
11613 posts

You could easily daytrip to Brussels from Gent, saving some packing/unpacking. I think Paris will give you more opportunities for things to do on a asunday than the smaller cities in Belgium.

Sounds like a great trip!

Posted by
4701 posts

Since you don't mention museums, I guess the most common closure day of Monday is not a big factor for you. You also don't mention Antwerp, which might be a little livelier on a Sunday than big-business and governmental Brussels. Have you priced "Any Belgian Station" for your train leg to Belgium? It can be tricky to get the limited number of tickets at the TI, but some cities, like Antwerp and Leuven have one tour of the otherwise secured City Halls on Sunday afternoon.

As it happens, I visited Ghent on a Monday not too many years ago. I knew the art museum would be closed, and that the church with the 'Ghent Altarpiece' would be open. I was surprised to find that many of the smaller shops in the tourist area were closed too. (It's not clear when you wrote "shops will be closed" whether you meant 'chocolate shops' or more generalized retail or draft beer facilities.) My point is that Gent is a very nice walking city, once you take the bus from the train station to the medieval center. There are beautiful exteriors to be seen, even if much is closed on Monday. I'm not a big beer guy so I can't help with that.

Note that some prominent chocolate companies in Belgium, like Leonidas, are not precisely "Belgian".

Posted by
16 posts

Yea I was talking retail in general. Chocolate, beer stuff, other retail establishments. Beer is the main focus in Brussels. Museums not high on the priority list for this part. Beer, food, chocolate, and city walking would be what we are looking for out of Belgium!

Thanks for the replies!

Posted by
23864 posts

some prominent chocolate companies in Belgium, like Leonidas, are not precisely "Belgian".

Fairly Belgian. Married a Belgian, made the choccies in Brussels, the choccies are still made in or near Brussels, and although relatively cheap are reasonably tasty Belgian choccies.

My favourite choccies, though, are hand made in Gent just around the corner from the Altarpiece of the Mystic Lamb.

Posted by
1464 posts

Chocolatier L. Van Hoorebeke?

Posted by
1464 posts

Thanks for the tip, the TI in Ghent has been moved to the renovated “Oude Vismijn” (near the castle) btw.

Posted by
16 posts

So I decided to train from Paris to Bruges and spend Sunday day there, spend both nights in Ghent and day trip to Brussels on Monday. Hopefully it works out!

Posted by
12040 posts

Note that some prominent chocolate companies in Belgium, like Leonidas, are not precisely "Belgian".

What, precisely, are they then? Their headquarters is in Brussels, all their products sold in Belgium are made there, the first shop opened in Gent, there's at least one store in practically every city and large town in Belgium, and their presence is sporadic to non-existent in the rest of Europe.

Posted by
4 posts

Sunday is market day in Ghent. Good day for what you are looking for.