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Down in Tervuren town
Tervuren is about 15km from the centre of Brussels, but the distance isn’t a problem. Not only is the town connected to the capital by the elegant Avenue de Tervuren, it’s also linked by the 44 tram from Montgomery, which provides the most scenic tram journey in Brussels. Avenue de Tervuren was built in 1897 by King Leopold II for the Brussels International Exposition; he wanted to showcase his Congo Free State and used both Cinquantenaire Park and Tervuren as exhibition sites. A tram allowed you to travel from one end to the other, and that tram route remains Brussels’ most picturesque as it runs past Stoclet Palace in Woluwe, the many grand embassies along Avenue de Tervuren, the Tram Museum, the Forêt de Soignes and the Africa Museum, the tram’s final stop.
From there, it’s only a short walk to Tervuren centre, where Paul Arinaga, a 49-year-old communication consultant, lives. “I was born in Hawaii and lived in Japan, London and Eindhoven before moving to Tervuren about nine years ago,” he says. “At the moment, we’re looking to move right into the town centre, to be within walking distance of restaurants, bars and the tram stop.”
The commercial heart of Tervuren is around the Markt square. Nearby Brusselsesteenweg is home to a few of Paul’s favourite shops. “Treasure Trove (at number 7) is a delightful English bookstore for kids, but they happily order books for adults as well,” he says, while bicycle store Robeet (72 - see below) provides him with all his biking needs. “It’s not the cheapest bike shop around, but they have a good selection of rides and a great mechanic to fix your bike.” A few doors down is a shop that lets Paul unleash his culinary prowess. “For spices or Thai ingredients, I pop into the Chiang Mai supermarket (42), run by a very friendly Thai lady.” The Markt square hosts a food market on Fridays, but for fresh fruit and vegetables, Paul recommends Voedselteams: “It’s a group of people buying produce from a local farmer, a great way to access quality products at a fair price and discover new things at the same time.”
For a bite to eat, Paul recommends the Italian Il Carretino (see below). “They make the second best pizzas I’ve ever had,” he laughs. “La Brace near Schuman still tops my list, though.” Of the many brasseries surrounding the church, Paul recommends Gambrinus (12 Markt). “They have a nice menu and a cosy interior, though the noise of the cars on the cobblestones outside sometimes makes it hard to keep conversation going.” To tackle this issue, Paul has joined Verkeersplatform Tervuren, an action group who’d like to see part of the centre made car-free: “More foot traffic would ensure a nicer atmosphere and would certainly help local businesses,” he says. “At the moment, we’re creating awareness in schools and plan to run a survey among the community.”
On Sundays, Paul likes to venture out for a walk or a bike ride. “The park and the forest are nearby and are definitely a major selling point of the area.” From the church, walk under the Warande Gate to reach the park. The gate was built in 1897 to grant access to the Congolese Village in the park where 60 Africans lived through the period of the expo. You’ll notice the large pond with its restaurant, Bootjeshuis, and the old Panquin military barracks on the right. “If you like to exercise, there’s a trail through the park with all sorts of workouts. It takes me about an hour to finish all of them,” Paul says. “There are plenty of bike routes as well: one of my favourites is next to the Voer, a side stream of the River Dijle.”
A visit to Tervuren wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Africa Museum. When it opened in 1897 it focused on the Congo, but now it tries to include the history and culture of the whole continent. It’s surrounded by a stunning garden that’s the perfect location for a walk or picnic in warmer weather. Paul also recommends a ride on one of the old trams. “They set off from the Tram Museum and take you to the terminus in Tervuren or all the way to Cinquantenaire Park.”
Mainly small terraced houses in the centre; further out you’ll find detached houses with a garden. Renting a two-bedroom place starts at about €750; if you’d like to buy, prices start at €2,000 per square metre (Vlan Immo)
Take tram 44 from Montgomery, or take a De Lijn bus (several buses travel between Brussels and Tervuren.
MEET THE NEIGHBOURS
With the many embassies and international schools around, you’ll hear a lot of English on the streets. Most inhabitants are Belgian, followed by a large number of Brits and people from the Netherlands, Germany and the US.
In & around Tervuren
LAKE (main picture): Paul relaxes beside the lake at the end ofthe Africa Museum’s gardens
ROBEET: Bike shop that offers new models and a mechanic to fix your old one. 72 Brusselsesteenweg
44 tram: One of Brussels’ most picturesque routes terminates in Tervuren
Africa museum: The museum and its gardens make an ideal family day out. 13 Leuvensesteenweg
Il Carretino: The best pizzas in Tervuren can be found here, according to Paul. 2 Peperstraat
Photos by Natalie Hill