A smattering of florists is present every day on this spacious square that was chosen by the 19th-century bourgeoisie as their favorite space for a leisurely walk, but Sundays are special. Ghent’s tradition of selling flowers on the last day of the week originated in 1772, and the town has kept the fragrant tradition up ever since, earning the Kouter the nickname “Garden of all Gentenaars.” Sundays are, thus, still the liveliest day, with the market expanding greatly and often a brass band playing on the Kouter’s eye-catching 19th-century cast-iron kiosk. Sundays are also the day when locals come to slurp oysters and champagne outside the picturesque Blue Kiosk. On the square’s edge, the charming independent bookstore Paard Van Troje makes a mighty espresso and carries an English section.
Every day from 7 am to 1 pm
Further bookworm rummaging happens at the Ajuinlei on Sundays. Here, dozens of tables are put up by the waterside to support the weight of hundreds of books. Sometimes a bit tattered, yellowed or with notes from a previous owner in the margins, most of the items are secondhand and make great bargains. Founder Thierry Bonnaffé imagined a community like the bouquinistes of Paris, who sell their literature on the banks of the river Seine, gathering at Ghent’s Leie, and he wasn’t far off. It’s a quaint charmer of a market that makes the stroll from the Kouter to the Groentenmarkt a joy.
Sundays from 9 am to 1 pm