France may be known as a culinary capital, but buying kitchen supplies here can be so expensive that you may need to choose whether to invest in your retirement or your kitchen. Luckily I came here well equipped, but if I hadn't, I would have tried to brave the crowds and crowded space of E. Dehillerin in Paris (I'm shuddering at the thought as I write this).
I would gladly travel to Dille and Kamille in Brussels to stock up on everything kitchen, garden, and housewares wise and carry it all back on the train with me to Paris. Dille & Kamille is a store which originated in the Netherlands and it's a haven (or heaven) for anyone seeking any kitchen tool or accessory, garden supplies, spices, or herbal infusions for refreshingly low prices. It's like a Crate & Barrel in the US, but with European products.
When I say they have everything, they really do, including a truffle mandoline for 14,95€ (about $20). There's a small tea bar in the back so you can sample the infusions they offer before buying some to take home, and their prices are amazingly low for Europe.
A few blocks away there is a perfume shop which features high end and unique fragrances, candles, and infusers called Senteurs d'Ailleurs. It's like entering a jewelbox with prices to match for candles that go to over 400€. It's a treat for the senses, and if you want something unique, they will blend you a fragance or you can choose one that you won't find in a regular shop.
Brussels is an ancient city and many of the former homes have been converted into shops. The former main residence (mansion) may be a shop or restaurant today with a long alley to the back where smaller offices or shops reside. The long corridors linking the front and back were once carriage passages, and the gardens surrounded by thick walls offer a quiet refuge from the street noise.
Some of the old accessories remain as part of the store entrances, like these chandeliers at the entrance to Abercrombie and Fitch.
After shopping all day, we headed towards the Grand Place and on the way walked past what was once a high end store called Old England. It's now a music museum which has a tea salon on the top floor!
One of the most famous bars in Brussels is also a marionette museum called Toone. The alleys leading into and away from it were slightly creepy. Inside, ancient marionettes were on display and they have shows with them for entertainment.
Toone was not scary at all compared to La Cercueil, which as the name suggests has a coffin theme. Yes, your tables are atop actual coffins and the decor is very death oriented with skeletons. We went only because it was one of the must see places, but it was not at all my style and we did not stay more than the time it took to enter and turn around to leave.
Since evening was approaching, the lights of the city began to flicker on
giving a warm glow to the streets around the Grand Place.
There are several covered passages leading to the Grand Place and they were all lined with shops selling everything from chocolates to books.
Upon entering the Grand Place we went to one of the oldest brasseries, and got a seat on the 2nd floor with this view below.
It was a grand way to end the day :)