The beginning of July means summer is here, but in Belgium, it also means it’s bargain hunting time. Everywhere you look, shops are adorned with brightly coloured SOLDES signs, begging for your hard-earned Euro. But there’s one place in Belgium, you can find discounts all year, even without braving the sale-period madness – Maasmechelen Village, in Limburg province.
I’ll be honest, I’m not a big shopper, and I’m definitely not a fashionista. I like nice things as much as the next gal, but whenever I look at a price tag, my brain is thinking ‘I could buy a flight to Portugal for that much,’ or ‘this costs the same as a weekend in the Ardennes.’ But, even in my travel-obsessed state, I still need clothes to travel in, suitcases in which to pack said clothes, and cooking supplies, because well, even I have my weaknesses. I just don’t want to blow my travel budget to buy these items.
So when the lovely ladies behind the scenes at Maasmechelen Village Chic Outlet Shopping invited us to come take a look around, I was interested. We had visited the Village way back when we first arrived in Belgium and were underwhelmed. The majority of the shops didn’t appeal to us and the atmosphere felt quite sterile, much like an American outlet shopping center. Since then, BIG changes have been underway and, we’re happy to say, we love the new face of Maasmechelen Village.
The most obvious change was evident as soon as we walked through the gate. Everywhere we turned, we caught glimpses of Magritte. Giant green apples, floating bowler hats, umbrella canopies, and blue skies with puffy white clouds decorate the entire village. Incorporating art and fun into Maasmechelen Village was a priority in the overhaul. Several times a year, the theme will change (we’ve been promised a spectacular Christmas scene) but who better to launch the art project than Belgium’s surrealist master Magritte? I particularly loved the Magritte shop, in partnership with the Magritte Museum in Brussels.
The next change we discovered were the shops themselves. There are plenty of new faces since our previous visit and, despite a few favourites like Mexx and Desigual, they aren’t stores you’ll see while strolling down your city’s main shopping street. Being an outlet centre, all of the shops must offer at least 22% off the regular price (of course, during the sales period, the discounts are event better.) We spotted some great deals during our June visit we’d be hard-pressed to beat during the sale-period in Brussels. We discovered a few new (to us) brands: BA&SH has lovely women’s clothing, Wellensteyn sells beautiful and exceptionally made outerwear and Brussels-based Neuville sells gorgeous leather handbags. Of course, I also couldn’t resist checking out the kitchenware shops and may or may not have come home with a large orange bag from Le Creuset.
So the shopping has improved, the art and character of the village has definitely improved, but what about the food? We are happy to report very good things are happening in this department also. There are plenty of great food options around the village, from sit down dining to quick bites. The food is original and high quality. You won’t find Quick or McD’s here and we love that! For quick and healthy eats, there’s Foodmaker and Mea Cuppa Bagels and Soup. For food on the run, there are food-carts dotted throughout the village. (We spotted meatballs which seemed very popular and we may have indulged in a little gelato from Amorino.)
But for a real dining experience, G&G Cucina Tradizionale Italiana is a must try. This brand new Italian eatery is about as far away from ‘shopping mall food’ as we can imagine. The decor is modern and beautiful and the smells wafting from the kitchen and pizza oven are divine. We indulged in pick-me-up Bellinis, before diving in to our appetizer pizza, which was crispy thin-crust perfection. Andrew tried the spaghetti alle vongole, which was jam packed full of clams and I opted for gooey, rich 4 cheese ravioli. Delish.
Beyond good food (and a Samsonite store) there’s something else about Maasmechelen Village that appeals to our travel obsession. The parent company, Chic Outlet Shopping, has outlet villages around Europe and China. They’ve produced a series of travel-guides for each city, called Day Trip to Chic. We love the Brussels guide and look forward to putting the others to use on our future travels.
All in all, we were pleasantly surprised by the new face Maasmechelen Village. It’s a great addition to a visit to the Limburg area. In an upcoming article, we’ll give you more recommendations on how to get the most out of a weekend in Limburg, once you’ve had your fill of shopping and food at Maasmechelen Village.
Maasmechelen Village: What We loved
- Plenty of places to sit and rest with free unlimited wifi access
- Free, clean toilettes
- A luxury shuttle bus from Brussels if you don’t want to drive yourself
- Great food options – both on-the-go or sit-down dining
- Stores we can’t find elsewhere
- Quirky art and decorative touches
- Loads of free parking
- Open on Sundays
- Tourism office for Limburg in the parking area
Maasmechelen Village Chic Outlet Shopping
For more great restaurants in Belgium and beyond, check out our Restaurant Review page.
We’d like to thank Chic Outlet Shopping for inviting us to rediscover Maasmechelen Village and G&G Cucina Tradizionale Italiana. As always, all opinions are entirely our own.