Bruges is a city that never disappoints – it’s beautiful and quaint. It’s full of chocolate shops, museums, and cute pubs to grab a Belgian beer. Or two. It is touristy, but with three kids, sometimes it’s nice to play the American tourist card (as opposed to the local-who’s-supposed-to-know-what-they’re-doing card. Just sayin’) Plus, the city has a french fry AND chocolate museum. In short, it’s perfect for the whole fam.
We ventured off to Bruges just a few weeks after landing in Belgium. We’d visited the city many times before, during our previous expat experience when living in the Netherlands, and we embraced the familiarity with confidence. We traversed the city map-free and dined at one of our favorite local restaurants – Amon, which is Lebanese Cuisine. (www.amon-brugge.be/en/) Even the kids had fun making their own lunch out of the platter before us – plunging their pita bread into humus and feasting on lamb and chicken kabobs.
Just around the corner is the The Choco-Story. (A short walk from the center of town – seemingly everything is.) The lobby area is very small, and we waited a while outside to enter. After handing over the entrance fee (8 Euros for adults, 5 Euros for children between 6-11, Free for children under 6) you receive a bar of chocolate per person. Which I pocketed and hid from my children until the end of the tour. I try to avoid sugar-high children with chocolate fingertips in most museums – plus, save the best for last, right?
The museum was very thorough, tracing the history of chocolate from its origins of currency, to reserved only for the elite, to today’s worldly production and consumption. Fine china cups for drinking chocolate amazed both my daughter and I because of their beauty and fine details.
The museum, of course, focused on the history of chocolate within Belgium itself. Anyone who has spent a few hours in the country will already recognize the name, Leonidas – Belgium’s largest chocolate producer – and sections of the museum are dedicated to illustrating the start and rise of the empire. The breakdown of chocolate – white, milk, and dark is visually displayed using pie graphs. Visitors are educated about the growing, harvesting, shipping, processing, and creating cocoa beans into chocolate through both displays and a video.
Spanning four floors, we found the museum and the building itself to be educational and fun. Months later, the kids still ask if we can return.
For more information:
Pearl of Wisdom: The website lists many combination tickets available. We have visited the Frietmuseum (French Fry Museum) and it’s also perfect for small children (and is even more spacious than the Chocolate Museum, which got a little cozy with the stroller. Friets are served at the end).