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A Sunny Day in Brussels - Villa Empain & Bois de la Cambre



It is such a treat to be shown around by locals when you visit a new place.
My friend Anna, who lives in Brussels, asked me what I'd rather do - the usual touristy tour or something more particular? 
Well, I naturally went for the "particular" bit and had the most unexpectedly fun day in the sunshine!
 
First stop. Villa Empain
Villa Empain is on the elegant Avenue Franklin Roosevelt, where all of the embassies are located.
It's an utterly chic, tree lined boulevard, dotted with elegant houses, on the edge of Bois de la Cambre, Brussels' biggest open green space. 
 
The villa was built in the 1930s by the son of a wealthy businessman, employing Swiss architect's Michel Polak's design. It is not immediately impressive, but it certainly stands out as a prime example of clean Art Deco lines. 
The details reveal themselves slowly throughout the visit...subtle golden painted edges, layers of receding cornices on the ceiling, elegant ironwork on the staircase banister, blue mosaic walls in the bathrooms - signs of a different era.

The pool is the focal point of the whole property, especially from the ground floor, where wrap-around windows bring the towering, green trees inside. 
I couldn't help but think about cornices and windows and the power of simplicity in interiors.

The Villa's entrance
Melancholia - the Greek word for depression, it sounds somehow softer and almost nostalgic in Greek 
 The American Bar on the ground floor - a little dolphin fountain can be seen behind the bar

The Villa's focal point - the perfectly symmetric pool

Second stop. Lunch at Chalet Robinson
 
Lake? Check.
Ferries? Check.
Lunch on an island? Check!
 
Bois de la Cambre

Asparagus Carbonarra, at Chalet Robinson - superb!
"Sailing" across the lake in Bois de la Cambre
 
Right behind Villa Empain's perfectly geometric pool, there is Bois de la Cambre.
 
We walked up through the trees, only to come to this open expansion of water, surrounded by trees and all shades of green. As we walked around the lake, we spotted to small ferries, transporting people to the little island in the middle. We jumped on one and transported ourselves to the fittingly named "Chalet Robinson", a wooden chalet, open for lunch!
 
We hadn't booked, so word to the wise, if you wake up and decide to visit for lunch, do call in advance. Luckily we were told to wait for a bit and managed to get a table on the terrace overlooking the amazing scenery. We grabbed some Aperol Spritzers and lounged in the sunshine till our table was ready. What a treat!

Lunch was pure joy, cold white wine sparked fun conversations and giggling and when the time came to go, I couldn't have asked for a better way to spend one of the hottest days of the year, in the heart of Europe. Thank you my friends for taking such good care of me!
 
One of my favourite sunny day past-times  - families and friends around the table
 

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