Created | Updated Jan 28, 2002
Zaventem is a small town only three train stops from the centre of Brussels in Belgium. It has escaped becoming just another suburb thanks to the intervention of a massive motorway cutting. It is very, very, close to the airport.
The chocolate factory closed years ago, but the nearby road from Brussels to Louvain (the Leuvensesteenweg) has become a sort of Silicon Valley, with plenty of job opportunities. NATO Headquarters is just down the road. Otherwise, it's a commute to the capital to work for the EU or for the tourists.
There are many excellent bars, a range of restaurants from posh to grotty, and an adequate range of shops. Monday is market day. Recommended places to spend your hard-earned money are as follows:
A small bar called de Uiver on the perimeter of the market square, right opposite the main door to the church - very welcoming with good food but somewhat primitive loos.
The tatty but homely Venezia restaurant near the railway station. Run by former Italians, it's a small place serving excellent food at low prices.
Dits is a delicatessen on the opposite side of the market square to de Uiver. Open on Sundays, it has such a good selection that you can waste an hour trying to make up your mind what to buy.
The Frietkot at the market serves huge portions of chips covered in mayonnaise - no point arguing.
Cultural Survival Tip
You will get on well with the locals if you try to speak Flemish rather than French. Zaventem is just outside the bilingual capital, in the Flemish region of Belgium. The locals appreciate anyone who doesn't just assume they are French speakers. After a few words of terrible Flemish you can then revert to any common language - you will have made a friend.