Travel postcard: a surrealist weekend in Brussels

Fri Aug 17, 2012 5:07am EDT
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By Ben Deighton

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Floating men in bowler hats don't dot the sky in Brussels, but the city is full of references to surrealist painters and poets such as Rene Magritte and Paul Delvaux, who lived and worked here.

The Belgian capital is full of galleries and museums with surrealist works and, heading off the tourist track, you can see surrealist art in the streets and visit bars where Magritte and his contemporaries drank.


6 p.m. - Whether you get a train from Brussels' Zaventem airport, a Eurostar from London, or a bus from the low-cost airport in Charleroi, south of Brussels, you'll probably arrive at Gare du Midi station.

If you're lucky, you'll be able to reserve the Magritte room at Hotel Le Dixseptieme and spend the weekend surrounded by the artist's prints. The best way to get there is jump onto a northbound train and travel one stop to Gare Centrale.

6:10 p.m. - You're now in the heart of Brussels' former Latin Quarter, where Magritte and his clique had studios and galleries.

Step out of the station onto road Cantersteen and head right until you come to a semi-circle-shaped pedestrianized area at the foot of Brussels' Mont des Arts -- a monumental staircase and park originally conceived by King Leopold II to improve the area for the city's 1910 hosting of the World Fair.

Hotel Le Dixseptieme is one block down Rue de la Madeleine, one of the streets that radiates from the semi-circle.   Continued...

Gardeners design a giant flower carpet to form a floral decoration at Brussels' Grand Place August 14, 2012. The design requires about 700,000 flowers to create, according to event organisers. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir