Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Markets: Plaisirs d'Hiver in Bruxelles

Bruxelles' Christmas Market is called Plaisirs d'Hiver or Winter Wonders (although the direct translation from the French would be Winter Pleasures...), and it takes place from the end of November until New Year's Day.

The first thing you'll probably come across (as it's the easiest place to find in Bruxelles!) is the giant Christmas Tree in the Grande Place.

That wooden structure next to it is a stable where a Crèche with large figures representing the Virgin, St Joseph, the infant Christ etc. are placed. Dunno why I don't have any pictures of it from any of my Bruxelles winter visits!

Like most decorations, things look a lot better a night with the lights twinkling away!

And they've even got a light show set up on the façade of City Hall!

I could have stood there, just mesmerised, for hours were it not for the cold! ;o)

But the "real" market starts just a few streets away, at the Bourse (Stock Market).

There you find the first of the wooden chalets selling toys and jewellery and decorations and all sorts of trinkets for the holidays! This nice fellow allowed me to take a picture of him and his wares. I loved those penguin ocarinas!

You can also get my favourite holiday drink: Glühwein! (a.k.a. hot spiced wine)

It always warms me up from the inside out, I love it! :o)

Crossing the street in front of the Bourse you find yourself walking through the "welcome" gateway along the path to the Plaisirs d'Hiver.

It's an easy path to follow, lined with lights and Christmas trees... until you reach the Place Sainte Catherine where the "guest of honour" is located.

The first time I wandered around there was in 2007 when several of my friends came to visit me for a long weekend. We found ourselves completely engrossed by this awesome Carousel that was set up just in front of the Ste Catherine church!

Check out all those cool critters to ride on!

I think it's still set up somewhere on the market, but last time I was there (2009) in front of Ste Catherine was just the special "guest of honour" market which that year was for Mongolia. In one of the "yurts" (tents)I found some lovely scarves and gloves for my mom and aunt and sisters!

I also went inside the church for the first time, and among many lovely architectural elements was delighted to see a chapel set aside for the Orthodox residents of the neighbourhood!

Going around to the left of Ste Catherine you've reached the Marché aux poissons (old fish market), and this is where the main attractions are located! More food and drink and trinket stalls. A huge ice skating rink, a sled, an ice monster and I don't know what else! Sadly I only have these two photos:

When I went in 2009 it was very cold and crowded and after a while you just get tired, plus we had to be careful not to miss our train back to Liège! It's a nice, sprawling market, with lots to do for everyone! I should certainly have given it more time... :p

PS: the daytime shots were taken by friends of mine. My photos are mostly the nocturnal ones


  1. Very interesting! I especially like the night time photos - just stunning, especially the blue tree. You know I love anything beachy, so I liked the seahorse on the carousel. Did you drink that entire mug of spiced wine??

  2. Did I drink the whole mug? You betcha! When warm that stuff is delicious! On a typical Christmas market visit I'll probably drink 2-3 mugs throughout the trip, if in Germany then with sausages! But they're usually smaller than that mug, about 30ml so not as much as it sounds. ;o)

  3. *sigh*

    Makes me wish that I were back in Europe to enjoy all of this again...

    And vin chaud *drools*. It's actually really easy to make! :D


  4. Oh wow, that is a huge mug of hot wine! Fantastic photos, Cris, and very interesting reading. Thank you so much. Merry Christmas! :)

  5. This makes me really want to get over there to a Christmas market sooner than later! And now I am craving wine.

    I do love Bruxelles -too bad you don't like beer. They have some of the best!

    1. I loved Lindeman's Kriek and Pecheresse. Hated all the rest!

      But in winter it's all about the mulled wine and hot chocolate, YUM! :o)

      And I'm back in Liège tomorrow!!! :D

  6. Indeed! I saw your photos of that weird thing they set up this year... yikes! :p


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