Stroll – Coin du Balai: its history, population, artists, and its citizen initiatives


Located at the edge of the Soignes forest, almost an enclave with a single exit to the outside world.

History, perhaps legend, tells how Charles the Fifth granted the inhabitants of this village the right to collect branches in the forest to make brushes. This activity lasted until the end of the twentieth century.

What is even more certain, is that towards the middle of the nineteenth century, in order to be able to build the courthouse, the Brussels authorities moved the people of Marolles to Coin du Balai.

In the twentieth century, the well-known painter Rik Wouters was a long-term resident of the area, first on the Rue de la Sapinière and then on the square, previously called La Citadelle, and now named Place Rik Wouters.

Many artists came to live in the area. Every two years, the District Committee moreover organises an artists' trail where a hundred houses open their doors for the general public to admire the works of artists from the area and elsewhere.

Today, the Coin du Balai remains a village within the city. The residents are very industrious and embark on a number of community initiatives. For example, two gardens, an apiary, valves (information panels), a website, mass dinners on the street, an open-air cinema in the very steep Rue du Rouge-Gorge, a closely-followed carnival, a fanfare, giants,…

Screening of  "Raconte – moi : Souvenirs de commerçants : Chaussée de la Hulpe et le Coin du Balai »  by Alice Latta (Short documentary, French,  2018, duration 30 min) 

Known once for its many cafes, small shops, broom makers and its 'Brusselair' folklore, the neighbourhood of the so called “Coin de Balai”has changed a lot since. Through stories of their childhoods and souvenirs, elederly residants share the evry day life back then.

The short documentary film is part of the social film Project Mémoire Vive and  produced by Asbl Vivre chez Soi. Screening in the presence of the director.

Heiligenborre, 16
1170 Watermael-Boitsfort