Travel

Out of Africa: Brussels’ vibrant Matonge quarter

Established by Congolese migrants, Brussels' vibrant Matonge area is now a magnet for young Belgians – plus the odd Eurocrat

"Smile" reads the sign over the ramshackle shopping centre, where racks of highly flammable vest tops rub shoulders with vats of hair relaxer. "You're in Matonge."

Tucked incongruously between the plate-glass and concrete of European Union institutions on one side and the high-end boutiques of the Avenue Louise on the other, the African quarter of Brussels hasn't always had the best reputation. Scruffy and anarchic, it has been a frequent flashpoint for conflict, particularly in 2011 following the Congolese elections, but it's emerging as one of the most exciting, creative parts of the city.

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