It is one of the most beautiful bookshops in Europe. But also one of the most discreet. Founded in 1984, Tropismes occupies a beautiful interior in a quiet side arcade of the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert.
The glittering bookshop interior was once a mirrored ballroom where daughters of the Brussels elite learned to dance. Later, it became a jazz café, and then a sophisticated literary bookshop.
The atmosphere, like a Parisian bookshop, is slightly forbidding. Not the cheerful chaos of Waterstones, let us say. But it’s worth venturing inside to admire the gilded pillars and lofty ornamented ceilings. The view from the mezzanine, where art books are shelved, is particularly stunning.
The collection is mainly French, some with little handwritten notes by staff members. There is also a small selection of English literature. Hunt around the biography section and you should find a life of Victor Hugo.
Look up Juliette Drouet in the index, and you may be surprised to discover that the French actress conducted a secret affair with Hugo while living in an apartment above the bookshop.
Derek Blyth’s hidden secret of the day: Derek Blyth is the author of the bestselling “The 500 Hidden Secrets of Belgium”. He picks out one of his favourite hidden secrets for The Brussels Times every day.