The Timeless Charm of the Place du Jeu de Balle

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Nestled in the heart of the Marolles district of Brussels, the Place du Jeu de Balle, affectionately known as the “Vieux Marché” or “Old Market”, is a testament to the vibrant history and cultural richness of the Belgian capital. This iconic daily flea market offers a unique shopping experience, attracting locals and tourists alike to its bustling atmosphere.

A historic market place

The Place du Jeu de Balle traces its roots back to 1853, when it was originally built as a playing field for “balle pelote”, a precursor of modern tennis, which was very popular with the 19th century inhabitants of Brussels. Its transformation into a flea market began in 1873, when the city council moved the “junk and second-hand clothes market” from Anneessens Square to improve the appearance of the city’s new central boulevards. This decision gave birth to the most famous flea market in Brussels, a title it proudly holds to this day.

The Place du Jeu de Balle: A haven for treasure hunters

With 450 professional stallholders, open every day from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. and until 3 p.m. on weekends, the market offers an unparalleled treasure trove of antiques, second-hand clothes and bric-a-brac. The charm of the Old Market lies not only in its wares, but in the cosmopolitan and friendly atmosphere that encourages bargaining – a tradition as old as the market itself. While prices generally reflect the quality of the items, haggling is part of the fun and adds to the lively character of the market.

When to visit the Place du Jeu de Balle

For those seeking the quintessential flea market experience, Thursdays and Fridays are touted as the best days to explore the Place du Jeu de Balle. However, the weekends are known for unveiling more specific or rare finds, attracting collectors and enthusiasts alike. Early birds have the best of it, with the best treasures often discovered as traders unpack their wares in the early morning haze.

Beyond the market

The charm of the Place du Jeu de Balle extends beyond the market stalls. The surrounding area, with streets such as Grande Rue and Rue Blaes, is lined with antique and second-hand shops that promise further discoveries. The nearby Place Sablon, famous for its own antiques market, offers additional hunting grounds for those in search of unique finds.

At the end of your adventure, a trip to Stef Antiek near Place Saint-Catherine is highly recommended. Known as one of Brussels’ most fascinating junk dealers, it is a fitting end to a day spent immersed in the city’s rich history and eclectic culture.

The Place du Jeu de Balle: A cultural landmark

Today, the Place du Jeu de Balle is not only a marketplace but also a cultural landmark that embodies the spirit of Brussels’ past and present. It invites visitors to enter a world where history is tangible and every object tells a story. Whether you’re a seasoned collector or a curious traveller, the Place du Jeu de Balle offers an enchanting and unforgettable experience, ensuring that the heart of the Marolles district continues to beat to the rhythm of its most famous flea market.

Other flea markets in Brussels

Place du Grand Sablon: Antiques Market for objects dating back at least 30 years. Every Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm, every Sunday from 9 am to 2 pm.

Boulevard du Midi: At the height of the embankment between the Terre-Neuve street and the bridge of the North-South railway junction: market for used bicycles and mopeds on Sundays from 8 am to 2 pm.

Did you know that

The Place du Jeu de Balle, where Tintin walks at the beginning of The Secret of the Unicorn, was the starting point for many of Hergé’s stories. The cartoonist found many objects there, such as a suit or a bowler, which gave him ideas for the adventures of his characters…

Every year, a flea market dedicated to Hergé’s work is organised in Louvain la Neuve, near the Hergé Museum. We were expecting the next edition of the Tintin flea market to take place this year, but the Musée Hergé kindly contacted us to confirm that it won’t take place in 2015.

And if you are a fan of Tintin, you will be pleased to know that the stallholders will only be selling items related to Hergé’s work (books, articles, albums, originals, posters, figurines, toys, games, documents, etc.).

Hergé- Street museum Labrador 26-1348 Louvain-la-Neuve BELGIUM (010/488421 – [email protected])

Quick Facts & Travel Information about Brussels

Brussels, at the heart of Europe, is a city where history, culture and modernity intertwine to create a tapestry of experiences that captivate and enchant visitors. With its rich tapestry of turbulent history, Brussels is a beacon of openness, warmth and friendliness, making every visitor feel at home. Beyond its historical landmarks, Brussels reveals its quirks and charms through its comic strip murals, Art Nouveau architecture, cutting-edge fashion, delicious cuisine and the ever-present sense of surrealism that dances around every corner.

Trendy destination: Beyond chocolate and beer

Emerging as a trendy hotspot for weekend breaks and longer holidays, Brussels goes far beyond its world-famous chocolates and beers. Dubbed the ‘European Village’, the city is a cultural hub with nearly 90 museums, lush parks, enchanting walks and a vibrant scene of restaurants and bars. Whether you are planning a family holiday, a getaway with friends or a team-building adventure, Brussels promises discovery at every turn, from its rich history and architectural marvels to its deep-rooted love of comics and, of course, its chocolates and beers.

The Brussels Card: Your key to discovery

Unlock Brussels with the Brussels Card, the ultimate companion for exploring this fascinating capital. Offering free access to numerous museums, unlimited public transport and discounts at selected shops, restaurants and attractions, the Brussels Card is available in 24, 48 and 72-hour formats. Tailored to enhance your Brussels experience, it’s a valuable resource if you don’t already qualify for discounts. Purchase it online for additional savings or at key locations throughout the city.

Culinary celebrations: A taste of Belgium

Brussels is a city that celebrates indulgence, reflecting its joie de vivre and culinary delights. The city’s restaurants offer a feast of Belgian specialities, from classic moules-frites and sumptuous chocolates to more adventurous dishes such as anguilles au vert and stoemp. Desserts are a delight, with Belgian waffles at the top of the list, offering an array of toppings to satisfy every sweet tooth. Brussels turns every meal into a celebration of the rich flavours and traditions of Belgian cuisine.

Shopping: From chic to unique

Explore Brussels’ evolving shopping landscape, where luxury and creativity meet. From the chic boutiques of the Avenue Louise to the eclectic shops of the Boulevard de Waterloo, shopping in Brussels is a journey of discovery. With most shops opening at 10.30am and Sundays and Mondays being quiet, planning is the key to a successful retail adventure in a city renowned for its flair and diversity.

Accommodation: Comfort meets style

Brussels caters to the needs of all travellers with a wide range of hotels, from international chains to unique boutique options. With over 18,000 rooms linked by an efficient public transport network, visitors are guaranteed a comfortable stay, whether arriving at the international airport or via Eurostar and Thalys at the international railway station.

Nightlife and bars: the heartbeat of Brussels

Brussels’ nightlife vibrates with diversity, from the bustling bars of Place St-Gery to the quieter corners where Belgian beer traditions shine. Home to iconic beers such as Gueuze and Kriek, as well as the unique “half-en-half” drink, Brussels offers a nightlife scene that celebrates Belgium’s rich beer heritage in an atmosphere that’s both vibrant and welcoming.

Full of surprises, Brussels invites you on a voyage of discovery where history, culture and modernity blend seamlessly to create an unforgettable experience.

Essential Information

  • Population: 2,132,178 (estimated for 2024)
  • Currency: 1 euro = 100 cents
  • Emergency numbers: 112
  • Newspapers: Le Soir, La Libre Belgique, L’Echo, La Dernière Heure, European Voice, De Morgen, De Standaard, Het Nieuwsblad
  • Website:
  • Opening hours: Shops are open from Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. ‘til 6 p.m. Supermarkets close later and usually stay open until 9 p.m. on Fridays.
  • Tourist information: VISITBRUSSELS, the tourist office for Brussels can be found at the following addresses:
    • BIP – Rue Royale 2-4, 1000 Brussels
    • Town Hall – Grand-Place, 1000 Brussels
    • Gare du Midi, 1000 Brussels

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