Brussels-Capital Region, Brussels Region or simply Brussels, is the European Union’s de facto capital city. It is Belgium’s largest capital that comprise of 19 municipalities including the French Community of Belgium, Flanders and the capital of Belgium – City of Brussels Proper. From a tenth century fortress town it has grown into a metropolis with over a million inhabitants. Its metropolitan area alone has an estimated population of more than 1.8 million. It is for this reason that Brussels became Belgium’s largest town.
After WWII, Brussels played an important role in international politics. With the main EU institutions and NATO, it became the polyglot home of various international organizations, diplomats, civil servants and politicians. From its Dutch-speaking ancestors, it has become more of a French-speaking city. Although a majority of its inhabitants are French-speakers, either language possesses official status. Hence, as these linguistic tensions remain, even the language laws of municipalities surrounding Brussels invoke much controversy for Belgium.
When it comes to the economic status of Brussels, it serves as Europe’s center of administration. Its economy rely largely on services and is dominated by world as well as regional headquarters of European institutions, multinationals, administrations and other related services. There are also numerous craft industries like the Cantillon Brewery (1900s founded lambic brewery) in this city.
Fritkots, Frites or French Fries
The best frites or “fritkots” as locals call it is a Brussels delicacy you should definitely try. Although there is much debate on where you can get the best frites, there are actually lots of stores you can go to for these “fritkots”.
Apart from Barriere de Sain-Gilles, St-Josse’s Martin and Antoine, various other places sell these with ketchup, mayonnaise or whatever sauce you can imagine. For the locals, they love “andalouse” with their “fritkots”.
Chez Martin – This is a small place run by the affable and calm Martin. This place is a serious contender in Brussels for having the best frites. Here, you can have your fritkots over Cafe Gambrinus.
Maison Antoine – Their tasty fries come with a wide array of sauces. Located near the European Parliament, you can have your frites in one of the many cafes and bars that carry the sign “fries acceptes”. (As a note, especially if you’re a vegetarian, these fries are actually cooked in beef fat).
Cheap Brussels Hotels
Sofitel Brussels Toison d’Or – This hotel is situated near the fashionable Luisa district. It offers well-appointed rooms and elegant amenities. The nightly rate ranges from EUR99 to EUR495 for each person. Breakfast isn’t complimentary and it costs EUR25 per person. Another alternative is a Quick fastfood joint next door.
Hotel Metropole Brussels – This is the only nineteenth century hotel that is still operational. It is located along Brussel’s historic center and only a short walk from the Royal Theater de la Monnaie, the Bourse and the Grand Place. This 5-star hotel offers 313 suites and rooms, 12 meeting rooms, a fitness center and an award winning I’Alban Chambon gourmet restaurant.