Tongeren Bound for a Flea Market of International Renown

Tongeren’s flea market began over 30 years ago as a way for antique and quasi- antique dealers to come together to create a large market to sell their wares. It has grown and grown and is now the largest Flea Market in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg with more than 350 stall holders and 40 antique shops open every Sunday to show and sell their treasures. In addition to being held in a large building and a park garage, it spreads over 7 streets with several vendor displaying against the medieval walls of Belgium’s oldest city. I’ve gone many times, first around 1995, and through the years bought a turn of the century (of the 1900’s that is) English oak table and desk, pine trunks, salt glazed crocks, old wooden ice skates, Delft plates and much more. Although it opens at 6:00 a.m., I have been known to be out much earlier with a flashlight to scour for treasures in the dark as the dealers were unpacking their trucks. During the days I lived in Germany, I had a van and would drive the 4 or so hours from Heidelberg to Tongeren on a Saturday and stay in the Ambi Hotel to have the best location in town. Through the hotel windows, I could hear the trucks pull up and would know it was time to begin hunting. This time I was looking for a Delft plate to replace one I’ve broken and for small dark carved picture frames. I did find one plate for 8 euros but it was a little too worn and another for 40 euros but didn’t want to spend even half of that. I also found a couple of carved frames, but they were also to pricey. I bet I can find both or at least the frames at German flea markets when I move on this week, first to Bavaria and then Heidelberg. My friend Margy made out like a bandit with a handmade brass pot and a hand painted Russian tray at great prices. We stopped at her favorite place for delicious hot goulash soup with bread and Belgian beer for me and cola for her (designated driver). For dessert with our tea and cappuccino we had a very generous slice of the most amazing warm apple tart with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream. We left the town content and I still had some extra euros for our next flea market stop in Bavaria. Click on smaller pictures to enlarge them.

Once we returned to Brussels, we did take the tram back to the Musee Horta and the person selling tickets told me how to contact the curator to get a refund from being charged 60 euro ($63.81) instead of 6 euro ($6.38) to visit the museum the previous day.

We wandered the streets of Brussels’ high end shopping area and down Boulevard de Waterloo to pass Tiffany’s, Channel, Armani, Dior, and just about every other designer and high end store you could think of as well as C&A and Marks and Spencer. These stores were on the ground floor of the tall buildings that were either of “old world” vintage or starkly new and modern ones. Above the stores there appeared to be floors and floors of luxury apartments.

We walked on to attend a lovely 6:00 p.m. service at Margy’s church, Église Notre-Dame du Sablon. According to Wikipedia “this a Catholic church from the 15th century located in the Sablon district in the historic centre of Brussels, which was patronized by the nobility and wealthy citizens of Brussels.”

Afterwards, we walked on to one of Margy’s nearby favorite Italian restaurants, Al Piccolo Monde. Margy once met an airline pilot there and she told Margy it was her favorite restaurant in all of the Brussels. I can see why! I had scampi with fresh tagliatelle that melted in your mouth. A perfect way to end the day. (Well actually, after a short tram ride home, we ended the day by watching a couple more episodes of Mary Queen of Scotts, a series on Netflix we are hooked on.)

One thought on “Tongeren Bound for a Flea Market of International Renown”

  1. What a fabulous time in Belgium. Old wooden trunks were a catch for me in Tongeren. I still have an antique Stella Artois Beer tray, round and white from a small shop in Tongeren. Mussels in Brussels was also a great dinner or lunch specialty not to mention the waffles on the street corners.
    Keep up the fun!

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