24 Rue des Chartreux
+ 32 (0) 26470454
What do songs and comic books have in common? Nothing, you say? Well if you look hard enough, you can find both at Lucien Cravate’s vintage antique store (rue des Chartreux). Your first challenge is to find the shop sign, hidden away in the heart of the fashion district.
If you find a small window full of miscellaneous objects with no indication that it belongs to Lucien Cravate, then you’re on the right track. Eureka! Welcome to Ali Baba’s cave. Opened by a passionate bric-a-brac (“brol” in the Brussels dialect) trader in 2004, this small shop gave Nicolas Dehon the chance to empty his landlord’s attic, where he had been storing away his various treasures. And the place has since become a goldmine.
How can I describe this unusual spot? Bookshelves hanging on the wall are filled with Marabout Flash guides on sale for €2. With subjects like Yoga, How to Entertain Guests, and Be a Better Driver, the offer is hard to turn down. Nearby there is a collection of dark 1960s glasses selling for €6-€20. This is the kind of place where it’s best to dive right in. After a little more searching, I struck gold: a collection of matchboxes from around the globe that time had forgotten. A Tennessee motel, a hamburger restaurant, a Californian bank... you name it.
Low prices and unexpected delights
Lucien has everything. Cinematographers come here to find that extra detail that will make their work realistic. Sixties memorabilia, kitsch, shoes, ties... a local walking by with his wife once remarked to Nicolas: “Hey, you’ve got all our wedding presents on sale here!”
I teach tennis in the city and also write about culture for a number of publications. I love to travel and meet people. My city? It's an improv concert in a down-to-earth bar, an exhibition built on a work site, a play performed in the heart of the old city... My little extra: combining sport and culture!