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

10:26 28/08/2018

Given the municipality’s name, it’s no surprise that people love Forest for its greenery. It’s one of the city’s larger communes, sandwiched between Anderlecht, Uccle and Flanders, and sharing a border with Saint-Gilles and Ixelles to the northeast. It’s home to some magnificent parks and includes Altitude Cent, one of the highest points in the region. We asked Bulletin readers to tell us what they like about living here.

Isabelle from France has lived in Forest happily for the past 20 years. “It’s very convenient, with supermarkets nearby and good public transport, including tram 51 that goes to Gare du Midi,” she says. “I love the beautiful Duden Park, and the Altitude Cent area is very green. It also feels very safe here.” The atmosphere is not for everyone, however. “It’s too quiet and too residential,” says one resident from Italy who previously lived in Copenhagen. “There are not enough shops or life.”

“Forest has a suburban feel with all the convenience of urban living,” according to Timo from Germany, who moved here from Moscow seven years ago. “The Altitude Cent district is fantastic – residential enough to be enjoyable, but urban enough to have all the infrastructure and convenience you need. The new metro will stop just a little too far away at Albert, and just because Uccle residents voted in the past that they didn’t want to suffer a few years of works. There are tons of supermarkets within walking distance, bars, restaurants, small shops right in front of my door, and lovely green spaces around the corner. Plus there’s very good public transport.” He also has only good things to say about the service at the local town hall. “They’re in a temporary space while the main town hall is being renovated, but that hasn’t decreased the quality of service.”

Luc from Melbourne appreciates the area for its parks and culture. “We live near Albert so we’re quite close to the parks, Duden and Forest, and also to places like Bar du Matin, and many more new places opening on Chaussee d’Alsemberg. Wiels contemporary arts centre has some great events, including lots of gigs with international and experimental acts.”

'Like living in the countryside'

Living in Forest is like “living in the countryside while being ten minutes from Avenue Louise”, says Barbara from Italy, who moved here from Luxembourg 27 years ago. “There are beautiful villas bordering the park, and a communal garden in the esplanade of Duden Park where neighbours can meet while gardening. And the town hall staff are very good, helpful and efficient.”

“Forest is a quiet and nice neighbourhood where one can find everything they need,” says Marie, a Belgian who previously lived in London. “Duden Park is among the nicest of Brussels’ parks. I find the local administration is expensive compared to other areas in Brussels. Yes, town hall staff are helpful but it’s awfully crowded. Calling them or emailing them is a good option, and they react quickly when you signal a problem on your street, for example.”       

One resident from England is another fan of the Altitude Cent neighbourhood and of Duden Park, though is less enamoured with the Saint-Denis area, close to the railway lines and the Audi car plant, and would like to see damaged pavements better looked after and repaired. Forest has two very different sides: the upper part, towards Uccle, with villas and lots of green space, and the lower part, around Avenue du Roi and towards Midi station and Anderlecht, where the population density is much higher and the streets are noisier.

These differences are reflected in property prices. Two-bedroom apartments in the upper town cost upwards of €1,200 a month, while similar-sized properties can be found for €800 in the lower town, according to property website Immoweb. A three-bedroom new-build passive house will set you back €500,000 to buy, while a four-bedroom place near to Wiels in the lower town can be had for a little over half that price.

Favourite spots

Bar du Matin for food, drink and music • Duden and Forest parks • Small Thursday afternoon market at Place de le Délivrance • Altitude Cent for restaurants, cafes and the striking Art Deco church of Saint-Augustin • Wiels contemporary art centre • The Little Green Shop for flowers and Sunday brunch • Forest National concert venue • Cosi Come pizza restaurant • Schievelavabo restaurant • Art Deco town hall • Saint-Denis church • Petit Train à Vapeur attraction for children in Bempt Park • Factory Forty co-working space • Guinguette du Parc de Forest and Parckdesign pop-up bars every summer in the parks • Royal Union Saint-Gilloise football club in Duden Park • Les Cupcakes d’Emilie bakery

Positives

  • Upper town is green and quiet
  • Beautiful parks
  • Good public transport links
  • Feels safe
  • Town hall easy to deal with

Negatives

  • Property in upper town is expensive
  • Not particularly good for bars or restaurants
  • Lower town is noisy and crowded
Written by Sally Tipper