Place du Grand Sablon is slightly off the main tourist track. A good place to go on a Sunday when looking for a little break from the busier areas of Brussels, like Grand Place.
Starting from the bottom of Place Sablon, you can walk up “street” and have a hard time choosing which patio to stop at. With so many tables arranged between the buildings, it narrows this pedestrian-only alley and makes for a great atmosphere. Since Sablon is not one of the major tourist spots, the service at restaurants will be quite different than found in the Grand Place area. Some waiters may not speak English and you could wait up to 30 minutes or more for someone to come to your table to take your order. So Sablon is a good place to visit when you’re not in a hurry or when you are almost done your visit to Brussels.
All the major Belgian chocolate shops, Marcolini, Neuhaus, Godiva, Whitamer, Cote d’Or, and Leonidas can be found here. Sablon is a great place to visit these chocolate shops and get a taste for yourself and maybe some gifts to take home.
If you are visiting on the weekend, you will find an antiques market in the square. Booths full of watches, jewelry, paintings, furniture and other ornaments. Prices are a bit steep so its nice to browse and maybe you’ll be lucky to find a real treasure. Antique shops, jewelry stores and art galleries line the surrounding streets so there is plenty to see.
After wandering through the antique market, you can make your way up to the Notre Dame Church of Sablon (Church of Our Lady of Sablon). This 15/16th century gothic church is worth a visit with its beautiful stained glass windows.
One of the most beautiful green areas in Brussels, Petit Sablon Square, is just across the street from the church. It is surrounded by gothic columns with bronze statues which represent 48 ancient professions. With its manicured shrubs, it features a statue center piece with a pool of water below. The statue represents the counts of Egmont and Hornes who were executed on the scaffold on 5 June in 1567 because of their resistance to the Spanish tyranny.
The monument was originally set up in Grand Place in front of the Maison du Roi, the place of execution and was transferred to the Petit Sablon in 1879. This move is advantageous now as the small garden faces the church and leaves a lasting picture in your mind.