Brussels in Bloom

Anne & Kirk Woodyard – Music and Markets Tours

A lush carpet of flowers blankets Brussels’ Grand Place for only 5 summer days every other year (this year from August 14-19), and we’ve planned our flight to France to include a long layover in this capital city so that we can see the spectacle for ourselves.
It’s an easy commute into town from the train station beneath the airport – about fifteen minutes (and 15 euros round trip) to Brussels Central Station – and from there, we’re just steps from the Grand Place, Brussels centerpiece, described by Victor Hugo as the most beautiful square in Europe – high praise from a Frenchman!
We enter the square across from the Hôtel de Ville, the town hall, from where we’ll be able to view the carpet from above, on the balcony. Through the courtyard,
up the anthurium adorned stairs – a plus to the 5€ entry fee to the balcony is the opportunity to see the interior of this glorious Gothic building, as well as a close-up of the façade .  We find out after snapping this shot that no photos are allowed inside. Too bad – we’d love you to see these magnificent rooms, hung with priceless tapestries. We’ve often seen wedding parties in the square outside, on past trips, and now can view the gorgeous  Salle de Marriage where the ceremonies take place.
It’s about 9:30 in the morning, and we’re glad for the pre-crowd space to take our time and appreciate the carpet below from all angles.
The majority of the blooms are begonias, and they’re placed right on the cobbled square – that’s why this carpet lasts only 5 days. There are also paths of gravel, patches of grass, and designs of chrysanthemums. The theme is Africa, and the composition is squares of different patterns inspired by the continent.
It’s a treat to get an up- close view of the sculptures on this façade. Below the saints are smaller figures, called misericords in carved choirs that we’ve seen – not sure if they’re called the same on a façade. A sweet caress on one, and a loving kiss on this infant’s head – delightful!
Down below, we walk around the square to see all of the designs, then enjoy a few more hours in this bustling capital city before returning to the airport to continue our journey.
The flower carpet will return in 2014, with a unique design of ephemeral beauty – well worth a visit!

The best way to describe us (Kirk and Anne Woodyard) i
s that we’re interested in the stories that make the places we visit come alive.
We’ve visited Europe more times than we can count, learned some entertaining stories there, and met some warm and helpful people who also enjoy the wonders of music and life in Europe.
Between our music-related travels, we split our time between our homes near Washington DC and the south of France. We look forward to sharing these stories and friends and experiences with our Music and Markets guests.
While both of us have experience in organizing travel and music groups Kirk’s background is in project management and competitive writing, and Anne is an accomplished pianist with over thirty years of teaching experience, and a travel and food writer specializing in France and Italy.

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