Europe's Gay Village
Many cities around the world make grandiose claims about their gay village credentials but outside San Francisco and New York, the reality can fall well short of expectations! Brussels’ gay village on the other hand comes as real surprise. The main thoroughfare, Rue Marché au Charbon boasts a picture perfect location just a stone’s throw away from the Grand Place in the heart of the historic Quartier Saint-Jacques. Here, located in a cluster of delightful gabled Dutch style townhouses you’ll find a sprinkling of traditional wood panelled estaminets (cosy old fashioned pubs), swish lounge bars and sunny pavement cafes. Blissfully traffic free, in the evening, the crowds spill out onto the cobbled streets creating an infectiously laid back and welcoming buzz that’s hard to match in any other European capital city.
Cutting straight through the gay village you’ll find a section of one of Europe’s most colourful tourist attractions, the Comic Strip Trail where blank walls are jazzed up with psychedelic murals of Belgium’s most famous cartoon characters. This provides a fun backdrop to Brussels gay life and the mural of Brousaille, a popular 1980s animal detective strolling along arm in arm with his androgynous girlfriend Catherine, has become the much loved symbol of gay Brussels.
Out and about in the gay bars you’ll hear a Babylonian variety of languages with English the main lingua franca of Brussels’ huge international community. As headquarters of NATO and the EU the city has a smart, cosmopolitan mix which is reflected in the city’s gay life. In recent years, Brussels has taken full advantage of it’s location at the heart of the Paris/Amsterdam/Cologne gay triangle. The city’s monthly club nights have become legendary amongst gay Euro clubbers with party night trains and shuttle buses bringing pink night owls to Brussels from all over western Europe. Sophisticated and hedonistic, Brussels offers the very best of European gay life.