Comical oven mitts woven on old-time industrial machines, nostalgia-inducing greeting cards and a whole host of local delicacies are just part of what these Ghent shops offer. Finding a gift or memento in the historic city becomes a breeze with these nine addresses at your fingertips.
Tiny but sweet best sums up confectionery Temmerman, the old-fashioned candy store in the medieval Patershol quarter. If you haven’t gotten your cuberdons (also called neuzekes or ‘little noses’) from the carts on the Groentenmarkt square yet, this is where you make your move. Other-days-of-yore sweets such as lutsepoepkes (‘wobbly bottoms’), wippers, mokken, muilentrekkers and dozens of other types of candy with nonsensical names vie for your attention. During the winter season, white-powdered sneeuwballen (‘snowballs’) and sumptuously decorated gingerbreads take over the shop. Once you’ve made it outside with your sweet treats in hand, take a second to look at the 17th-century façade to see six of the seven acts of mercy preserved in Baroque relief.
Confiserie Temmerman, Kraanlei 79, 9000 Ghent, Belgium, +32 9 279 59 01
Around the block from Ghent’s Castle of the Counts, tourists can score refrigerator magnets and greeting cards to remember the impressive 12th-century fortress. The Craenkindershuys, tucked inside a historic building, stocks all of your traditional tourist knickknacks, plus genever (Dutch gin) by the bucket.
Craenkindershuys, Kraanlei 2, 9000 Ghent, +32 9 224 33 09
Above the door at Groentenmarkt number 3, a quaint plaque underneath a wooden half moon reads ‘mostaardfabriek’: mustard factory in old Flemish. Here the Tierenteyn-Verlent family has been selling herbs, pickles and their famous spicy mustard since 1883, though they’d been making a name for themselves almost a century before that. Behind the charming green façade of the Old World shop by the name of ‘A la Demie Lune’, they present artisanal products in the authentic 19th-century interior.
Tierenteyn-Verlent, Groentenmarkt 3, 9000 Ghent, Belgium, +32 9 225 83 36
Inside an elegant 19th-century building on the shopping street of Burgstraat lies a gift Valhalla. A’pril steadfastly goes for charming accessories that brighten up the home – think snow globes, cacti-shaped salt and pepper shakers, and flamingo umbrellas. Cutesy fruit and animal-themed baubles have the shop bursting with colour.
A’pril, Burgstraat 27, 9000 Ghent, Belgium, +32 9 223 09 92
Stretching along the River Scheldt, the early 15th-century Groot Vleeshuis, or Butchers’ Hall, is a seminal Ghent landmark. If you enter the old meat-selling halls now, you’ll find a spacious restaurant serving East Flemish specialities underneath a ceiling of dried hams that dangle from a gorgeous wooden beam truss. Besides the grand setting, there’s also a little shop that makes it possible to take tasted delectables, such as Ganda ham, local beers and Ferdinand Tierenteyn mustard, home. Surprise baskets filled to the brim with these products are bound to put a smile on a bon vivant’s face.
Butchers’ Hall, Groentenmarkt 7, 9000 Ghent, Belgium, +32 9 223 23 24
Another prime spot for great objects by Belgian hands is A.PUUR.A. Katrien Buyle’s inspiring shop has been around for decades, and from the beginning, Buyle has prioritised the recycled and the sustainably sourced. While her spacious store on the cosy Onderbergen street has a little bit of everything – from wooden furniture to floral-patterned blouses and handcrafted notebooks – the eye for warm design is constant.
A.PUUR.A, Onderbergen 56, 9000 Ghent, Belgium, +32 9 223 02 41
In 2011, Michel Frömmer, formerly the owner of antique shop Habbekrats, went for a big change. The shopkeeper decided to revamp his venue into a travel agency, but not just any travel agency. He transformed it into one with the power to send you on a journey through time. In Het Tijdreisbureau’s (‘The Time Travel Agency’) large window display, the business advertises flights to the 19th and 20th centuries. Step inside, and an intriguing curiosity cabinet chock-a-block of items from every age awaits.
Het Tijdreisbureau, Ottogracht 35-37, 9000 Ghent, Belgium, +32 496 55 96 81