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Up my street: The Bulletin's neighbourhood guide to Watermael-Boitsfort

06:22 24/11/2018

Stretching from the edges of the Ixelles cemetery at its most northern point to the Flemish border in the south, Watermael-Boitsfort is a popular commune with families and those seeking peace and quiet within easy reach of the city centre. A large chunk of the vast commune is taken up by the Forêt de Soignes, making it Brussels’ least densely populated municipality by some distance. We asked Bulletin readers what it’s like to live here.

“It’s a nice green and quiet place but not far from the centre,” says İzmir from Turkey. “There are great places to take a walk or go biking with children or with your dog. You can find all kinds of restaurants and cafes and shopping places around. The only disadvantage is the high cost of renting a house.”

“It’s very green and very quiet, a calm place on the edge of a big city,” says Nick from Canada.“I love that it’s family-oriented, with lots of families heading to the various schools and community centres all the time.” For him, the problem is that there aren’t as many commercial hotspots as, say, Ixelles. “I get that it’s largely residential, but there are other places besides Place Keym! The Sunday market at Place Wiener is very cool, and there’s lots to see. Check out La Venerie. It’s the local community centre and has shows and workshops all the time. The town hall has been nothing but helpful; I realise this is VERY unusual. Be prepared the first time and it’s all very smooth sailing with them.”

Glen from the UK moved here more than 20 years ago. For her, it’s “a wonderful calm area, full of trees and convenient for the city. I’d like to see Place Keym modernised but for parking spaces to be kept available.” Watermael Boitsfort is “a lovely village in a bigger city, very green, with forest all around”, according to a resident from the US who previously lived in Germany. “But traffic is a problem: better connections to the Ring would take the traffic out of the village area.”

“It’s a peaceful area, with lots of green spaces and clean air, and it’s child-friendly,” says Maria from Romania, who’s lived here for three years. “But I’d like to see more dog owners cleaning up after their pets.”  Sharon from Ireland moved to Watermael-Boitsfort from Ixelles a year ago. “I like it because it’s suburban, green and quiet,” she says. “Place Keym could be improved; a lot of men tend to drink there and it can be quite intimidating for women.” Another resident who’s lived in the area for 25 years reckons it offers the best of both worlds: “close to everything that’s good about the city, yet still a village, with nature, charm and culture”. They like it for the forest, the restaurants, the Sunday market, the people and the lack of crime, and rates the town hall as helpful and easy to deal with.

“This is a beautiful, serene part of the city,” says Jemi from Ghana, who lived in Aalst in Flemish Brabant before moving to Watermael-Boitsfort. “There’s a lovely pond behind my apartment block for fishing, and it’s close to the Trois Tilleuls sports complex, though it can sometimes be noisy with a street both in front of and behind  the block.” As for service from the town hall: “They’re super! They even call me up to pick up my documents when they are ready. The staff are very helpful and they speak my language.”

Tram 8 runs through the centre of the commune, and metro line 5 passes just to the north of its borders in Auderghem. Three railway stations in the commune link to lines S7 (Halle-Mechelen), S8 (Louvain-la-Neuve-Midi) and S81 (Schaerbeek-Ottignies).

Property in Watermael-Boitsfort is more expensive than in many areas of Brussels. While a handful of studios and small apartments are available to rent for about €650 a month, many two- and three-bedroom apartments go for upwards of €1,250 a month, with serviced flats often costing more than twice that. The cheapest two-bedroom houses currently available on property website Immoweb are on sale for €350,000, rising to €1.5 million for four-bedroom family homes and villas. 

Favourite spots

Le Crabe Fantôme French-Thai restaurant • Place Keym • Oz brasserie • La Brioche bakery on Place Keym • Sunday market on Place Wiener • Kid-friendly cafe La Laiterie des Pêcheries The Lodge waterside restaurant for food and cocktails • Tournay-Solvay ParkFarm Chant des CaillesWinery for wine and tapas • Calypso sports centre • Forêt de Soignes • Bois de la Cambre • L’Eau à la Babouche: “the best Moroccan restaurant in Brussels!”

Positives

  • Quiet, green and calm with lakes and parks
  • Offers the best of city and village life
  • Family-friendly and feels safe
  • Helpful staff at town hall

Negatives

  • Traffic can be heavy
  • Property is expensive
Written by Sally Tipper