Joining the Flux to Lux - The majority of each annual intake of pan-European expats in Brussels come to work in the European Quarter.
Most are young, most want to make friends…and all of them get thirsty. So the obvious ports of call are Schuman and Place du Luxembourg, both of which pretty much shut down at weekends but rock for the rest of the week. For this article, we’ll focus on Place Lux.
Place Lux, across from the European Parliament, is the more compact of the two, having bar terrace after bar terrace on both sides, broken only by a corner Bank and, bizarrely, the Swiss Permanent Representation. Being close to the main EU institutions it has a captive audience, but is it any good?
Bouncy assistants, schmoozing MEPs, cynical journos and disappointed barflies all love it. Thursday night sees the square rammed with wild-eyed youth - listening to the kind of loud, dum-dum-dum music that pimp-my-car types bang out of their windows at traffic lights.
These revellers spill out in front of buses and carpet-bomb the central area with beer glasses and plastic cups. Most of the carnage remains as backdrop for a slightly less crazy reprise on Friday. (The reason Friday is quieter is that many people fly home that day for the weekend. Thursday is THE big night.)
The would-be ‘flag stag’ guys are after two things: getting smashed and laying a cute foreigner, while the chic chicks are on the make for Mr Right-Amount-of-Money.
The top bars for these bright young things are Ralph’s and The Grapevine, but the terraces intermingle so much that you could be anywhere. Sadly, we recently lost a real drinkers’ pub from the square - O’Farrell’s.
Across the square - and the only bar that sees anything approaching a crowd at the weekend - is Fat Boy’s. It’s a sports bar, possibly the busiest in Brussels, and if what you’re after is non-stop sport TV, juicy American-style burgers, wall-to-wall memorabilia and testosterone up the ying-yang, then this will do just fine.
Next door is the new-ish Beer Factory, a Belgian-owned bar that despite its name and popularity is really not as hot on the beers as it should be. In fact, no bar in Place Lux really goes overboard on Belgian speciality beers – just the basic names to kid the kids they’re being authentic.
On another note, many watering holes serve food during lunch and evening (Quartier Leopold being a restaurant rather than a bar) and you can even get a decent cocktail in Coco.
Taxis and buses are near to hand, Trone metro is five minutes away and there’s a smattering of eateries in walking distance.
But most come to the square to get drunk, party and pull. If that floats your boat, then there’s really no better place than the Place.