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4 Jan

Beyond chocolate and lace – these are the shops you must visit in Bruges.

Mention shopping in conversation with potential visitors to Bruges and you’re almost guaranteed they’ll talk about chocolate or lace. After all, these two commodities are what the city is best known for. But retail aficionados will be delighted to learn that there are many independent boutiques that specialize in everything from antique books to cutting edge design pieces for the home. If you want to go beyond chocolate and lace, these are the shops – and eateries – you must visit in Bruges.

Homewares

The comfortable and chic interiors of your Odevaere guesthouse will have you redesigning your own home in your head so these recommendations for Bruges’ best homewares shops will be just the ticket.

Those in the know make a beeline for Eekhoutstraat, where at number 28 you’ll find Au Bonheur des Dames. This tiny store is packed with collectibles and bric-a-brac and is known for its fine Belgian linens and floral fabrics. 

Harfi has an altogether more contemporary feel. Run by Belgian-Moroccan couple Morad and Marie, it draws its inspiration from North Africa and works closely with artisans in Morocco helping to preserve traditional methods of craftsmanship. Inside, you’ll discover brass lanterns, leather wallets and handbags, earthenware tagines and Berber mats.

“Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication,” said the brains behind interior design business Munt. Scandi chic with an ethnic twist can be found at Muntplein 2, just a five-minute walk from Markt in the heart of the old city.  Frederiek van Pamel at Ezelstraat 33 is a riot of color thanks to its joint role as a florist and interior décor emporium. There’s plenty to inspire here and your inner magpie will be pleased you came to browse. Serendipity means the act of happening upon something pleasant by chance and you’ll quickly see how apt this is if you make your way to the Serendipity store at Sint-Jakobsstraat 56. From sheepskins to wicker baskets, there’s plenty that would be ideal for the aspirational home.

Fashion and vintage

Greet Verbeke is one of the most well known antique dealers in the heart of medieval Bruges. This talented and passionate lady has an eye for the unusual, quirky and fabulous. Browse her store for antiques, contemporary art and collector’s items sourced from across Europe. Vintage clothing fans should schedule in a visit to Selected by Francoise, a thrift and second-hand store. Its website shouts the message “Life isn’t perfect but your outfit can be” and if that speaks to you, head down and see the clothes they have in stock.

If music is your passion, then the tools – old and new – grace the shelves at Rombaux, which you’ll find at Mallebergplatz 13. Violins, pianos, harmonicas, and ukuleles are just some of the musical instruments that can be purchased here. Countless music scores and a host of DVDs and CDs will keep music fans amused for hours. Prefer books? Add Raaklijn to your itinerary, located at Kuipersstraat 1. Jean Darthet opened this place in November 1961 and it remains one of the city’s best independent book stores, with a sizeable catalog of foreign language fiction supplementing works in Dutch.

Sustenance of a different kind

All this shopping and you’ll have worked up an appetite. If you’re hoping to prepare a feast back at your Odevaere home, then Schaeverbeke bakery for bread and pastries,  Maertens the butcher,  Meat Boutique for meat and het Diksmuide boterhuis for cheese will provide with the makings of a lunch or dinner to remember. If you want to eat in but can’t face cooking for yourself, treat yourself to the tasty fare provided by Deldycke catering’s shop. Combine their seafood, meat and other deli items for a spread to remember.

No holiday would be complete without spoiling yourself, so if you’re keen to eat out or enjoy drinks, then these suggestions for local favorites are worth noting.  Adriaan coffee bar at Adriaan Willaertstraat 7 is a must, as is the award-winning Blend wine bar at Kuipersstraat 8/10.

‘T Zwart Huis (The Black House) is a delightful bistro where you can sip cocktails and enjoy traditional Belgian food. Housed in a 15th-century merchant’s house, it sometimes has live music. Its amazing fireplace and historic features are sure to be talking points as you dine. Other restaurants worth seeking out include Visioen, a Parisian-style brasserie focused on fusion cuisine, and Tom’s Diner at West-Gistelhof 23, serving up no-nonsense tapas in addition to its a la carte menu.

Did you find any hidden gems while you stayed with us in Bruges? We’d love to hear your recommendations.

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