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Brilliant Beauty – “How Much?” at Place du Jeu de Balle

The Place du Jeu de balle in Brussels, Belgium

“HOW MUCH?” I asked an old man with the loudest and slowest tone I could manage.
My hubby was whispering that I should have respectfully asked in French and he repeated, “How much” in French (c’est combien).

The old man showed two fingers, so I assumed that it was two Euros.

My hubby and I visited the Place du Jeu de balle in Brussels to find our cat’s water bowl. The place is a publically known antique market place– just like a huge garage sale without a ceiling – and we found buckets after buckets of junk called antiques.


There were buckets of typewriters’ keys, metal handles, tea cups & plates, rings, some paints, old maps (and I mean old), family photos…surprisingly I could find everything that I could think of, we just couldn’t think of what would compel someone to buy personal family photos of a stranger’s family. We could not, however, find a perfect water bowl for our cat. Our princess cat is very picky, especially about china.



The old man was selling buckets of broken chandelier pieces. Pieces of crystal and wires were simply in huge yellow buckets. Those broken chandeliers reminded me of “The Phantom of the Opera”. I imagined that the old man swept those pieces up after The Phantom dropped it. It also reminded me of an old melodramatic Japanese comic, “Haikara san ga Tooru”, where a wealthy Russian woman was crushed under a chandelier during an earthquake in Japan, and an old man carefully collected sad remains from the scene. Anyhow, it was too tough to break chandeliers into that many pieces under any usual circumstances.


I started picking through those pieces and found some in great condition. Beautifully cut, round shaped crystals were beaded together with a wire at the end. I assumed that it was used to connect a larger decorative piece.

As if knowing what I was thinking, the man suddenly took it from me and attached the huge crystal decoration. He made me a beautiful crystal ornament from those broken pieces. When I said, “Merci,” he showed three fingers. The decoration was simply raised from two Euro to three Euro under the name of antique shopping. 

From the beginning, I did not have two Euro anyway. I showed him inside of my coin case. He smiled and waved his hands with acceptance.  I only had 1.57 Euro.

Now, the piece is in our bedroom above the night lamp. The crystal shines through before I go to bed every night. I realize again how important it is decorating one special piece of my memory makes me feel relaxed and thankful at the end of a day.


Location: 
Place du Jeu de Balle in the Marolles District (BRUSSELS)

The market is open every day, all year round, from 6am to 2pm on weekdays and from 6am to 3pm on weekends.

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