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Up my street: The Bulletin's neighbourhood guide to Jette

09:56 25/09/2018

Jette in the northwest of Brussels is a resolutely green part of town, with a large chunk of it taken up by the King Baudouin Park. It’s also home to a major market, and retains a village feel, but still within easy reach of the city centre thanks to the newly opened tram line 9. Driven partly by its proximity to the European School in Laeken, more and more expats are choosing to make their homes here. We asked Bulletin readers to tell us what daily life in Jette is really like.

“Jette is a beautiful, calm neighbourhood. It’s green and quiet, with some areas having the charm of a little town. It has lots of shops and is decently connected by public transport,” says Sergio Castro from Ecuador. But there are downsides, he says. “There are not enough quality restaurants or bars, so most of the time I’m forced to go somewhere else if I want to go out. It’s horribly difficult to find a parking place, and I’ve been robbed twice in the one year I’ve been living here, so I don’t always feel safe.”

A Canadian Bulletin reader describes Jette as being “on the verge of becoming the Brussels commune par excellence. Convenient shops, nice restaurants and bars, lovely parks and green spaces. There’s no direct connection to the city centre by public transport, though; at least one change is always involved. Service at the town hall is very good, much better than Ixelles where I lived before. It’s clean, modern and well organised, and the queues move very quickly.”

Most of the readers who responded to our survey were Belgians, reflecting the makeup of the commune, though it is growing in popularity with expats. One Belgian resident has lived in Jette for 20 years, though has travelled extensively in Africa, the US and Europe. “Jette is a peaceful and green neighbourhood,” they told us. “There’s a rich mix of people, lots of parks and schools and a variety of food available. Public transport is improving, but a few more youthful cafes would be a plus.”

“There’s an open atmosphere, with very nice mix of people of different ages and origins,” according to Belgian resident Isabelle. “But public transport to and from the city centre and other parts of Brussels in the evening is less frequent.”

Property prices in Jette are higher than in some of the neighbouring northern communes, with a two-bedroom apartment going for an average of €900 and three-bedroom family homes costing from €350,000, according to property website Immoweb.

All those who took our survey about life in Jette mentioned its parks, and the northwest of the commune has an amazing natural resource. More than 300 acres in size, the King Baudouin Park is composed of the Molenbeek valley, the Laerbeek woods, the Poel woods, the Sacred Heart park and the Dieleghem wood. The Molenbeek valley was developed in three phases: the first two are landscaped parks with lawns, ponds, flowerbeds, small woods, children’s play areas and paths designed for easy wheelchair access; the third phase is more natural and historical with grazing meadows complete with cattle, wooded dales, hedgerows, riparian habitat, old farms, vegetable gardens, a children’s farm and the ruins of a Roman-Gallic villa. The Laerbeek wood is an 85-acre mostly beech forest, while the Poel is a beech and oak forest that is also a natural preserve with 49 bird species and extensive flora. The Dieleghem is 125 acres of very hilly forest with a large children’s area and a huge dog run where dogs are allowed off their leads. 

If you can’t make it to the South of France, there’s a full-size copy of the Grotto of Lourdes in Jette. A chapel was built in 1913 but the influx of pilgrims coming to ask the Virgin Mary to end World War I was such that they built a copy of the grotto in 1915 to accommodate the crowds. It’s still a popular spot today.

Favourite spots The public libraryGavilan cafe and bakery • Origins organic market • Jam in Jette music festival • Brasserie Le CentralBar ExcelsiorBrasserie Le Miroir • King Baudouin Park • Art centre and cafe-restaurant Atelier 34zero • Place Miroir market • Herakles Greek restaurant • Patagaf Italian restaurant • Grotto of LourdesMagritte Museum (the artist lived in Jette for more than 20 years) • Dieleghem abbey • Thursday afternoon market in front of the station • De Gele Poraa student bar with live music • Le Chalet du Laerbeek, a spectacular restaurant in in the Laerbeek woods

Positives

  • Quiet and calm residential area
  • Lots of parks and nice places to run and walk
  • Plenty of markets and supermarkets
  • Good connections to Midi and North stations
  • Fast, friendly service at the town hall

Negatives

  • Poor transport connections to city centre and livelier southern suburbs
  • Disruption from roadworks
  • Difficulty parking
  • Some areas feel less safe than others
  • Lacking in nightlife
Written by Sally Tipper, Richard Harris