Most ubiquitous item of clothing: Among Eurocrats, a sharp suit. The nationality of the wearer can almost always be surmised from a cursory glance: the Italians like their suits well cut; the French favour expense; the British go for something much cheaper, usually worn with shoes of the wrong colour; and the Germans tend to go for separates, with dark trousers or skirt, and a jacket in salmon pink, off-green or mustard. The trendy slip out of their suits at night, the men into jeans and tight-fitting T-shirts, the women into minuscule tartan skirts or a slip dress, preferably silver, to go clubbing.
Hottest restaurant: Avoid anywhere with a display of fish outside and a multi-lingual waiter at the door urging you to come in. Avoid the overpriced establishments in the vicinity of Rondpoint Schumann; this is the Euro-quarter, packed with people on expense accounts. If you are a serious gourmet, with an Amex Gold Card, fax your reservation to Comme Chez Soi several weeks in advance. Otherwise head down to De Brouckere. Several of the liveliest restaurants are found in unmarked buildings in the streetsoff the square. The addresses of the best are only passed around by word of mouth.
Shopping: Bargain-hunters should head to one of the markets: the Jeu de Balle early in the morning any day of the week for general bric-a-brac, the Sablon on Saturday or Sunday for antiques, books and prints, or the Gare du Midi on Sunday morning for a lively variety of food and plant stalls. More conventionally, a selection of mugs, towels, boxer shorts etc with the 12 Euro-stars can be found in any of the Euroline shops. Don't worry that the 12 stars look passe in these days of a 15-member unio n; when Jacques Delors chose the 12-star symbol it was just coincidence that it matched the number of member states. The stars on the symbol will remain at 12.
Hottest ticket in town: Any that will take you out of town every Friday night: Eurocrats like to go home at weekends. Unfortunately, this means braving Zav-entem International airport, which is unrivalled anywhere in Europe for the awfulness of its facilities and the rudeness of its staff. For those who prefer to stay put, a sensitive retrospective of the Second World War, called "I was 20 in '45", is packing them in at the Army Museum in the Cinquantenaire Park.
Publication of note: The weekly English-language Bulletin: tells you everything from what is going on in the corridors of power to where you can enrol for Flemish classes. For those who have already mastered the two main national languages, try MAD, which pulls out of the Wednesday edition of the daily newspaper Le Soir.
The meeting place: It's uncool to be seen in any of the bars in the Euro-quarter; the only one you might venture into is Kitty O'Sheas, but only if you're Irish or there is an Irish band playing. Don't even think of going to Henry J. Bean's unless you are a Swedish au pair or have an urge to meet a Swedish au pair. Instead head to the Java bar on a corner near De Brouckere, a large place with simple decor and huge, steamed-up windows.
Drink of the moment: This never changes. Almost everyone in Brussels drinks beer, and lots of it, but forget the trendy stuff. Belgians like their beer from a glass, although the shape of the glass varies according to what kind of beer you drink.
Best-selling book: Charles Grant's biography of Delors, The House that Jacques Built, is selling well though published nearly a year ago. Paris au vingtieme siecle, Jules Verne's book looking ahead to life in this century, is also popular.
Hottest nightclub: Acrobate, near De Brouckere, is the only place to been seen, but don't turn up too early - the clubbing scene doesn't get going much before 1am.
Song on everyone's lips: "Set You Free" by N-Trance. Brussels is the home of rave music, with clubbers arriving by the train-load from Amsterdam.
Catchphrase: "Fuck, fuck, fuck" (as in the opening of Four Weddings and a Funeral) is a current favourite. Phrases from the latest movie (usually non-Belgian) are often popular.Reuse content