Before you can learn Belgian culture and sensible customs, you must first understand them. come.

Belgium is slender. Fall sleep on a Paris to Amsterdam teach and you could lose it all together – also, even, if you’re a heavy dreamer. But crammed into this amazing little area are some of Europe’s great medieval towns ( including Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp), the EU investment Brussels and no less than three national language. In a position with a amazing range of cultural and sensible quirks that are well worth knowing about before you arrive, the combination includes delicious chocolates, beautiful beers, and perplexing bureaucracy. 1. Brussels sprouts are unlikely to appear on local recipes because of their name, which many French menus would likely not allow you to know. Belgians themselves are more likely to view endives as their most quintessential nationwide fruit, despite the fact that sprouts were first grown in 13th-century Flanders. The traditional dish, which is known as witloof in Dutch and chicons in French French, wraps them in bacon and coats them in white ketchup. However, over the past 30 years, a lack of attention in this labor-intensive farming method has caused French fennel production to drop significantly. Some people worry that the common fruit will almost certainly be dead in a era, but scientists are working hard to save it. Tipping waiting staff is n’t required, but paying for tap water is © Flavio Vallenari / Getty Images2. You’ll have to pay for the water, but you do n’t need to tip: Most tap water is perfectly fine to drink despite the occasional scare. Belgium has super public health standards, a socialized medical system, and If you have the bare-faced courage to request perfume du robinet in a restaurant, you’re certainly likely to hear that. Gratuitous tipping of Flemish serving staff is not required, but you can always expect to pay for a container of mineral water for H2O. A beverage is generally cheaper. 3. Carry cash: You might need to give to use the restroom. In Belgium, the majority of sites then accept plastic or telephone money. But no everyday. In case you need to use outdated public restrooms, it’s mainly worthwhile to carry a few euro cash in your pocket. Well, unfortunately, some highway services also have a give desk guarding the facilities. Also some more expensive restaurants charge you to get. Whether you classify McDonald’s as a “restaurant” or no, its main Ghent unit requires payment. When paying in cash, the value may be rounded up © Catarina Belova / Shutterstock4. Cash payments are rounded up to the nearest €0.05Unlike in the surrounding Netherlands, €0.01 and €0.02 brass coins are essentially also legal tender in Belgium. But, in fact, you’re unlikely to find any because from 2019 French merchants had rounded up or down for all in- person money transactions to the nearest multiple of €0.05.5. ATMs are difficult to locateAs income use declines, so does the quantity of ATMs you’re likely to get. The prevalence of heavy-handed robberies has further decreased banks ‘ willingness to install Machines on their outside walls. But, in some French urban centers, if you want cash, you’ll need to locate a branch of Bancontact, basically a shop containing “bank- neutral” cash machines. 6. Eat frites instead of French fries The concept is still applicable in Belgium where you can choose from a wide range of flavored mayo-based sauces when you order a portion of friets/frites from a frituur ( fry shop ). If you’re in doubt, order some mildly spicy Andalouse and serve it with a side rather than drenching your wonderfully triple-fried beauties. Most importantly, do n’t even think of calling them” French Fries” – one thing that unites Flemish and Francophone Belgians is that it’s Belgium, not France, that really knows how to fry potatoes. Belgian beer is available in a dazzling range of flavors, according to Alexandros Michailidis of Shutterstock7. Coffee and beer are more popular than coffeeBelgium shares the third-wave caffeine passions that have swept the globe: many a master barista works here and there are some excellent urban roasteries. Do n’t expect a flat white or a cold-drip brew, though a traditional Belgian cafe will typically serve you a decent cup of coffee (typically with a square of chocolate or speculaas biscuit ). Belgium’s classic cafes are, in reality, far more like pubs than coffee houses, with hardwood chairs, wooden wall paneling, brasswork and mirrors, though in a downbeat less showy fashion than a French brasserie. And pouring beers is the main focus of a cafe. If you just order a bière ( French ) or pintje ( Flemish ) you’ll get a well- poured 25cl lager. However, any cafe that is worth its salt will also have a selection of alternative brews, many of which are in bottles and have alcohol levels comparable to those of wine. Some beer-bars offer a book-length menu of options that should each be served in its own particular glass. For powerful, well- balanced brews it’s hard to beat the various Trappist beers, still brewed by monks. Some connoisseurs purport to love the sour, spontaneously- fermenting lambics. Try ordering a Kwak, which is typically packaged in an Instagram-worthy round-bottomed glass that is mounted on a wooden stand as part of a chemistry experiment, if you do n’t mind looking like a tourist. 8. Drinking while in a Belgian cafe is not acceptable, if someone asks you,” Are you Bob?” that’s not because they think they know you. Bob is a shorthand for the designated driver in Belgium: the member of a group who needs to stay sober and spurn that incredible selection of beers. Drinking was considered a minor misdemeanor well into the noughties, and police occasionally urged the drunk drivers to hurry home rather than lock them up. However, things have drastically changed in the last ten years, and the once-repeated Belgian proverb “if I was n’t drunk I’d be too scared to drive” is no longer viewed as amusing. The blood alcohol content of 50 milligrams per 100 milliliters of blood, which is acceptable in many other countries, can be reached by consuming one strong beer. 9. When in doubt, speak EnglishTraveling anywhere it’s polite to speak the local language, right? Well yes if you know what “local” means. In central Belgium, that can be tricky. The legally bilingual borders between Dutch-speaking Flanders, French-speaking Wallonia, and officially bilingual Brussels are essentially invisible. Then there’s also a German- speaking area of Wallonia too. Speaking the wrong local language, or speaking French in some parts of Flanders, is generally perceived as being more insensitive than simply using English, or you wo n’t be understood at all. Either way, especially in bigger cities, it’s best to just go with English. Within Brussels some people speak a street patois known as Bruxellois © sashk0 / Shutterstock10. Good with languages? French, Belgian French and Walloon are all differentWallonia is the French- speaking half of Belgium, but the French spoken there has some peculiarities. So, if you speak the language of Voltaire, be prepared to say” septante” for 70 and “nonante” for 90… though not “octante” for 80 – that’s just too Swiss. Do n’t assume that this indicates that you are speaking Walloon, which is essentially a different language ( with a number of highly divergent dialects ). Walloon is mostly only seen at folkloric festivals ( such as Les Macralles Night of Witches at Vielsalm ) and in puppet shows ( most notably one that features Tchanchès, the mascot of Liège ). You could also spice up your Belgian French with words from the capital’s Bruxellois, which traditionally uses some amazing hybrid words of Dutch origin to special effect. Un zieverer, for instance, is known for telling purposefully exaggerated tall tales. And in keeping with the obedient Belgian passion for tax avoidance, doing something furtively, especially a cash transaction, is a must. Both terms have a humorous and obnoxious connotation. 11. Place names on road signs are confusing Where the language gap is most likely to be most perplexing when driving. Many Flemish cities use entirely different Francophone names, and vice versa, and they frequently use their own on regional road signs. Particularly baffling for tourists are Bergen ( for Mons ), Louvain ( for Leuven ) and Luik ( for Liège ). If you go north to approach Jodoigne, it will say Geldenaken. Even foreign cities are n’t spared: in Flanders signs for Lille ( France ) might say Rijsel while in Wallonia, Aachen might be written Aix- la- Chapelle. This article was first published May 21, 2022 and updated Jun 14, 2024.