The personal data of patients in Belgium is not being used as efficiently as it should be,...
Belgian mathematician Pierre Deligne yesterday received the Abel Prize, unofficially known...
Chinese legislator Zhang Dejiang yesterday met Belgian parliament speaker André Flahaut in...
The B-52’s, Primal Scream, Tinie Tempah, Anvil and The Fratellis are among the acts added t...
Up My Street: Saint-Boniface
Russian-born Ekaterina Ageeva, 33, works for financial services company Euroclear and came to Brussels about four years ago. She has moved several times since, from Etterbeek to Châtelain in Ixelles, to close to the Palais de Justice and now near Rue Saint-Boniface.
“It’s five minutes from shops and public transport,” she says. “What more could a city woman ask for?” The area got its name from the big and recently renovated neo-gothic Saint-Boniface church. As Bonifacious is among others the patron saint of brewers, it’s almost as if the area was meant to become a popular drinking and eating hub. “Whatever the weather, it’s always very busy around here,” Ekaterina says. “Making reservations are a must, especially if you’d like to get a taste of the delicious antipasti and pizza at Mano à Mano (8 Rue Saint-Boniface). They’re fully booked every day.”
Luckily there are plenty of other places serving food from all over the world: Asian cuisine at Le IIème Element (7 Rue Saint-Boniface) or Sanghâti (34 Rue Saint-Boniface), Greek food at Le Syrtaki (22 Rue Saint-Boniface) and of course some Belgian restaurants too. “I love the moules-frites at Au Vieux Bruxelles (35 Rue Saint-Boniface, below), with its dated interior,” Ekaterina says. “I was told Belgo Belge (20 Rue de la Paix) serves traditional food, but am a bit disappointed there aren’t any light meals on the menu.” A place in the area that does serve salads and so on is Le Comptoir (22 Rue de la Paix). From their terrace, you have an excellent view of the church, and on Friday evenings, you get to watch the roller bike parade (www.belgiumrollers.com). This float of people on rollerblades and bikes takes place every Friday during the summer, and usually passes through the Boniface area.
Just because she lives in the area, it doesn’t mean Ekaterina always hangs out there too. “There are plenty of places near Boniface I’ve walked passed a hundred times, but never visited,” she says. Pretty tea shop Comptoir Florian (17 Rue Saint-Boniface, below) or famous camera shop Michel Campion (15 Rue Saint-Boniface), for instance. “For drinks, we usually end up at l’Ultime Atome (14 Rue Saint-Boniface). It’s such a big place with a large terrace; there are always seats available. But as Place Lux and Place Flagey are nearby as well, we often venture out there too.” From Rue Boniface, you can get to the African neighbourhood of Matongé in no time. Visit Rue Longue Vie for its many African restaurants, bars and atmosphere. “I’m not very fond of the food, but I do like to look at the shops selling wigs and all sorts of nail and beauty products,” Ekaterina says. “There’s the old movie theatre Vendôme (18 Chaussée de Wavre) as well, a very unusual cinema that reminds me somewhat of Russian theatres.”
For shoppers, the area is a must-visit too. The first part of Chaussée d’Ixelles is paved with high street shops such as H&M, Zara, Mango and Casa. “It gets very busy though. Especially on Saturdays, getting from my place to Porte de Namur is a stressful trip past the many shoppers, mothers with prams and people waiting for bus 71,” Ekaterina explains. The latest figures by commercial agency Atrium show that the road has about 32,800 pedestrians a day, with a peak 27 people per minute per square metre. If you’re not too keen on chain stores, try Rue de la Paix with its little boutiques: feminine dresses and accessories at Kusje (12), retro clothing and sunglasses at Look 50 (10), cute earrings and necklaces at Le Petit Boudoir (19) or streetwear at Pax (8). “I often have a peek at second-hand book and DVD shop Bibliopolis (63 Chaussée d’Ixelles),” Ekaterina says. “It’s been there for a while now, but I sometimes wonder if people are still buying DVDs with almost everything available online.”
And for those looking for something fresh, the Boniface area will soon see the opening of a couple of new places: Mano à Mano will get some Italian competition next door with Ricotta & Parmesan, and Rue de la Paix gets to welcome restaurant/wine bar Le Baron Rouge.
Ekaterina says: “Boniface is a great location for young people as there’s always something going on. You can shop, eat, drink, queue at the post office, wash at a laundrette etc... all within walking distance. As it’s a lively neighbourhood near a busy road, there’s also quite a lot of noise and very few parking spots.”
Property: Mainly apartments in old townhouses, often above a shop or restaurant. Buying property costs around €2,300 per square metre. A place with two bedrooms will easily cost €900 a month
Transport: Get off at metro stop Porte de Namur on lines 2 and 6, or take bus 71 or 54 to Saint-Boniface
Meet the neighbours: Mainly young people; very few families. The area is popular with expats, especially from France. They are Ixelles’ largest expat community
Jeremy Main writes:
The St Boniface of Brussels is Boniface Cluytinckx, Bishop of Lausanne, whose bones lie in the Cambre Abbey Church. A Cistercian, he was tasked with pushing the Holy Roman Emperor Frederic II to obey his coronation oath to go on Crusade, until he became such a pest Frederic paid his monks to assassinate him. The plot failed, Boniface fled home to Brussels where he lived out his days as Suffragan Bishop and Almoner of the Cambre. Frederic was excommunicated and war broke out with the Vatican, leading to the construction of the town of Aquila, recently destroyed by earthquake.
Boniface is notable for the Rose Window in Lausanne Cathedral, an inspiration for the Cosmati Pavement in Westminster Abbey.
Boniface the Brewer was an 8th Century monk, possibly of British origins.