Sablon is a nice part of Brussels: Located between two lovely churches and lined with cafés, chocolate shops and restaurants, the area attracts both locals and tourist all year round.
Sablon hosts an antiques market on weekends, and there are lots of shops and art galleries in the area. The lovely park – le Petit Sablon – is a small but pretty green spot in the city.
I see a lot of potential in Sablon: The big square in the middle could be a pleasant outdoor area for people to spend time in. In my mind I see seating areas for cafés and ice cream vendors, perhaps a little fountain and more green spaces, trees and flowers. The antiques market could be expanded and more seasonal markets could be hosted there as well.
Unfortunately, instead, the square is mostly used as a car park. There is a huge asphalt space in the middle reserved for motor vehicles:
Parking is also allowed on both sides of the streets around the square:
I would love to enjoy a coffee with a nice view of the church and the trees, but alas: Parked cars block any views, and the noise of the traffic is not pleasant at all. Even the nice antiques market is completely hidden behind the cars and the traffic:
Many people reviewing Sablon on Tripadvisor also feel that the amount of traffic around the square reduces the attractivity of the area.
- Laura from the UK: “While it is very pretty the amount of traffic and parked cars mean that there is no square as such that you can walk in.“
- John from California: “The center is mainly used as a parking lot, which spoils the ambience. A park should be put in its place. “
Why does the city not recognise the value of Sablon as a pedestrian area with lots of possibilities for recreation, leisure and tourism? I am sure that the cafés around the square would be happy to have more space for customers to sit outside. There is a lot of potential to develop a proper Christmas market and bigger food markets in this area as well. The possibilities are endless!
Sadly, currently the area is just another example of Brussels choosing cars and the rights of drivers over any other options of city development. It remains to be seen how the city’s new plans to develop the parking and pedestrian zones in the next few years will actually improve the situation.
What do you think? How would you develop Sablon?