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Shopping in Belgium / Brussels

(19 Posts)
NadiSel Sat 24-Nov-12 20:46:57

Well now been in Belgium for a few months and 1 thing I've noticed is how expensive the food is. Also really, really annoyingly I can't get the basic sorts of things that the kids luv such as thick toast bread or pasteurised full milk without it costing an arm and a legangry.

Does anyone know of any farms where I can get fresh milk in more than 1 litre cartons and at a reasonable price. Same goes for the bread. The bread I get in Colruyt/Delhaize/Carrefour/Aldi is really thin and burns in the toaster!
Sorry for griping over simple things and some will say just get used to the local stuff but the kids won't eat or drink the local stuff. I know there is a Brit shop but that sells at extortionate prices so any other advice would be welcome.

I've even thought it would be great to open a local shop and sell at a reasonable price. I'm sure I could source and sell at a cheaper price than the Brit shops I've seen here. Does anybody have any experience of buying and running a shop in Belgium - what are the laws and who would I need to contact? I'm serious about this!

1 final plea - anyone recommend free weekend activities for kids. I've googled and the ones offered are useless - chocolate trail, shopping in Brussels, comic trail etc just does not work with young kids!


natation Sat 24-Nov-12 20:58:32

Never seen fresh milk in anything bigger than 1L in the supermarket. In the UK milk is sold at a financial loss by supermarkets as they know it will bring people in to buy more. UHT is the norm here and we buy it in bulk at 48L cartons minimum so it doesn't entice us to do more trips so is sold at profit here.

I find fresh bread you cut yourself is fine here. I've simply got used to it and now think British bread is rather soggy.

I do most shopping at Colruyt or when hubby comes every 2 or 3 weeks from the UK, we are stocked up with UK goods and 6L fresh milk which lasts about 3 days.

There are masses of things to do with kids every single weekend, whereabouts are you looking. Tomorrow there is a major event at Place Flagey, including mega stars "Les Déménageurs" - every Belgian francophone child under the age of 6 would know this is real superstar material!!! It's all free.

natation Sat 24-Nov-12 21:00:28

Nadisel, whereabouts do you live? We are actually going to the Place Flagey event tomorrow, leaving Montgomery by 81 tram latest 9am hopefully.

Next week it's Sinterklaas arriving by helicopter in Tervuren on saturday 1st December at 2pm, again it's free and aimed at under 6s.

NadiSel Sun 25-Nov-12 12:10:55

Natation many thanks - we are in Wesem. Where do you find out about these things? When we went back to UK a few weeks ago we brought back loads of food as well and will do so again in Xmas. But the milk and bread has run out hence the question about these in particular! You don't know about any farms that do fresh milk do you?

LadyMargolotta Sun 25-Nov-12 12:18:00

I have a friend in Gent who buys unpasteurised raw milk from a farm shop. It's quite popular there.

Where are you from NadiSle?

TBH it's to be expected that food is slightly different when you move to a different country, and Belgium really isn't bad at all. As natation says, the bread here is far better then british supermarket bread. It's just not so easy to toast (and of course the main reason we toast british bread is that it's not that nice untoasted...)

NadiSel Sun 25-Nov-12 15:08:16

LadyM, I am in Wesem. I was planning on going to Ghent one weekend just because I have been told by lots of pals that it is a good day out. If it is not too far from the route I would drop into the shop. Any chance you could get me the address of the farm shop?

I am trying to adapt the kids. They luv the waffles with chocolate spread! But they won't touch cereal with the local milk. Regarding the bread, why oh why does the slicing machine in the shops slice the bread so thinly?! Its not a big deal I guess but I just wanted to pick other people's brainssmile.

I luv the way Colroyt puts out samples - the kids previously wanted to stay in the car whilst I went shopping, now they fight over who comes in!

natation Sun 25-Nov-12 15:24:44

I am guessing you mean Wezembeek-Oppem?
In that case this farm near Braine l'Alleud might be your closest with a 24 hour fresh milk distributer.

The free children's festival at Flagey was great. Next weekend there is the opening of the Brussels Christmas market with lots of things to do, none too expensive.

Every single thursday there are a number of free museums open for free or very small charge until Christmas. Some museums are always free, such as the Army Museum. Every Sunday there are low cost workshops for children and their parents at BOZAR. To get the most out of Brussels though really requires French and a bit of Dutch, as most children's activities which are animated are not in English.

natation Sun 25-Nov-12 19:12:05

wednesday 28th November
Musée Cinquantenaire
"Escales en Méditerarnée" workshop from 2-4pm, €5

thursday 29th November
Experimentarium at ULB
free workshops for children and adults

saturday 1st December
1) BSB Christmas Bazaar in Tervuren

2) Saint Nicolas at Centre Crousse in WSP including free workshop from 9.30am

3) Sinteklaas arrives in Tervuren at 2pm, free sweets, bouncy castle, face painting, speculoos

4) Saint Nicolas walks around central Brussels from 2.30pm

These are a few of the free or low cost things to do with children in the coming week.

NadiSel Sun 25-Nov-12 20:13:58

Natation, LadyM - thanks - gr8 mums netters!

LadyMargolotta Mon 26-Nov-12 08:14:14

here is the farm shop - it specialises in cheese. Interesting place to go to if you are in the area.

I know you are looking for free weekend activities, but the family ticket for Planckendael is very good value. If you buy it now, the ticket will be valid until March 2014 but you only have to pay for 12 months (so you get a few extra months for free). Not only does it include entry to Planckendael and Antwerp zoo, but also moeny off for other places as well eg. the Mechelen toy museum.

Portofino Mon 26-Nov-12 08:56:18

Do you mean Wezembeek Oppem? Stone Manor at Everberg sells hovis and cravendale milk plus all the other UK comestibles you could want. British Store

If you are in W-O it is about a 15 min drive away.

Portofino Mon 26-Nov-12 08:57:10

Ah - sorry - saw you already mentioned the Brit store.

natation Mon 26-Nov-12 09:20:24

2 other season tickets which are great value if you have 2 or more children.

€35.50 per adult and €28 per child
12 months unlimited entry plus includes 1 entry to Bouderwijn Seapark worth €25 for an adult and €20 for a child

€329 for 2 adults and 2+ children in the same family, usually reduced to around €300 if bought in January to March, will pay for itself after 2 to 3 visits
Aqualibi is open on wednesday afternoons almost year round plus late into the evenings, Walibi is open April to October. It's just a 20 minute drive to Walibi/Aqualbi, you could just go for an hour or two here just for the playground even.

mammmamia Mon 26-Nov-12 09:36:26

I lived in France and Brussels for a while years ago. I think you just have to embrace the bread thing! You get used to not having English style sliced bread for toast and end up preferring the local bread, croissants etc...

rushingrachel Mon 26-Nov-12 19:24:22

There's no answer to the bread and milk thing. LuxLait is better than the stuff from Delhaize which goes off just when you look at it (I think it's Campina). But a nice mega bottle of Cravendale it ain't. And the bread from the supermarket if you put it through the slicer just goes hard IMO. You just have to live with it and go to Stonemanor when you REALLY want a bacon buttie and nothing else will do.

I've lived in Belgium for 6 years and before that was in Paris for 3.5 years. I love to cook and I love a lot of what is on offer here; including a nice piece of ultra crusty bread with a fresh unpasteurised cheese or a hand made pâté de saison. Or for that matter a fresh, slightly warm, buttery crpissant when I get a moment with the Sunday paper (not often). And I lament that in the local area boulangeries seem to be shutting at quite a rate. But when I want sliced bread I want it thick, white, just a hint of spring which doesn't detract from the soft chewiness. I want warburtons, the type in the waxed wrapper, to match a rasher or two. Appreciating the former doesn't detract from my appreciation for the latter! But to revert to the initial point, there's little you can do other than splash cash when the need overtakes you. For day to day milk and bread you need to acclimatise.

natation Mon 26-Nov-12 20:10:58

I can offer bread and milk delivery for anyone roughly 2 times a month, from Morrisons or Tescos Dover mainly. I have soggy British bread and fresh semi-skimmed in the fridge right now! I even have some bacon the freezer, but I've eaten the Cadbury's chocolate already :-)

The children quickly got used to the UHT milk though, it was that or starve.

PortoDude Mon 26-Nov-12 21:25:07

I buy the LuxLait milk - and buy bread and just slice it myself - don.t use the slicer. Also I bought a breadmaker - so you can make your own white loaves at a fraction of the cost.

Longtime Thu 29-Nov-12 12:18:11

Ditto Porto re luxlait (is it that different from the milk in the UK - I hadn't noticed) and slicing bread myself. I absolutely love the bread here and it would be one of the things I would miss should I ever find myself living in the UK again. The brown bread and baguettes are wonderful. However, you can get English Breakfast bread in Carrefour and Delhaize - pain de mie.

Bonsoir Thu 29-Nov-12 14:26:48

Ah, Luxlait


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