As its name could tell, this very lively neighborhood is named after a cemetery north of which it is located, a 5-hectares land surrounded by stonewalls. The cemetery itself is, in fact, one of the most renowned in Brussels, and even in the country, as many famous scientists, artists, and politicians were buried there. I must admit that although I spent years there as a student, it is only a few years later that I took the time to visit the cemetery.
The neighborhood “Le Cimetière d’Ixelles” was honored a few months ago as “one of the coolest in Europe” by The Guardian. It is located among the Campus du Solbosch and the green Campus de La Plaine (co-managed by the ULB and its dutch speaking counterpart, the Vrije Universiteit van Brussels - VUB), and the two main campuses of the Université Libre de Bruxelles, and my dear Alma Mater. For the record, the ULB also owns another third campus, located on the outskirts (Anderlecht, metro station Erasme), which is dedicated to medical students and all curricula linked to healthcare.
Needless to say that many bars, restaurants, cafes, retail shops and entrepreneurs in the Cimetière d’Ixelles make their living out of the entire ULB academic community that is active all year round, except in the summer (from July 1 to August 10), and, to a lesser extent, in the exam period (January and May).
It is the university hotspot of the European capital. If you walk along the Avenue de l' Université, you see many students around, going to the library, shopping, or having a drink in a bar or at a terrace. Sometimes, especially in autumn, you will see them wearing long white coats and caps ("pennes" in French), which means they have just been baptized, an important folkloric moment in student life. Also, you will meet lecturers, professors and the administrative staff wandering around, having a drink or eating, at almost any time of the day. Although pretty much university-oriented, do not think that the neighborhood is an isolated silo from the rest of the city. On the contrary, you will rather feel a city that was built around its university. It is a bit the same feeling like the one you have in other university towns in Europe, like Salamanca or Cambridge.
I remember many spots I used to go to as a student to relax together with mates, most of which are still running today, by the way. The most famous places, much appreciated by students and locals, are the following.
The Cimetière d’Ixelles is easily reachable via public transport. You can take the bus line 71, from Central Station, or 95 from the Luxembourg Station (in the European quarter). You can also arrive by train at the Etterbeek station, and then walk a few hundreds of meters up to the Cimetière.
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