Sunning oneself beside an industrial canal in the shadow of a crane may not seem like everyone’s idea of fun, but this would no doubt be refuted by the many visitors to Bruxelles les Bains. In the summer months the quay beside the Brussels canal, a couple of hundred metres from Yser metro station, is transformed into a veritable Copacabana-beach-meets-Ibiza-style-cocktail-bar plage urbaine.

Ok, so you can’t swim in the canal, and nor would you want to, but as an after-work destination to soak up the evening rays, you can’t beat it.

“We could be in Rio” proclaimed The Lobby’s companion, perhaps overstating the case somewhat, but as you sip your mojito framboise on the edge of a beach volleyball court, where locals young and old come to show off and strut their stuff, you could be forgiven for thinking that you had been transported to tropical climes.  Of course, such an event is rather dependent on the weather, but given a fair evening, as the sun dips below the offices on the opposite side of the shore, there are few better places to enjoy a Brussels summer.

Bruxelles les Bains runs until 23 August and has become a staple of Brussels life in the summer months – but be warned – the surrounding area is liable to car theft, and stories abound of foreign-registered cars in particular being broken into and valuables stolen.

Not that this should prevent you from sampling the atmosphere of one of the many impressive initiatives established by the city of Brussels, and with no entrance fee and cocktails a snip at €5, much fun can be had lolling around on a makeshift beach, listening to the music of the samba, and leaving the troubles of the city far, far, behind…

– Rob

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