One day in Brussels: What to do/see?

I have one day in Brussels next week. (Fly in Tuesday morning, leave early Wednesday afternoon). What should I see?

Also, my knowledge of French is minimal (by which I mean pretty much limited to ‘pardon, ou sont les toilettes, s’il vous plait?’ and 'vous parlez anglais? je ne parle pas francais."). My little mini-guidebook says a decent number of people speak English, so should I try to bumble through things like asking directions and getting something to eat in French, or ask right away if whoever I’m talking to speaks English? [This is the first time I’m travelling someplace I don’t speak the language, and I’m going alone, so I’m really afraid of being the Stupid Ugly American.]

The sprouts. Definitely the sprouts. :wink:

Here’s a list of events for 2006. There’s a little something for everyone: http://www.visitflanders.co.uk/events.html#topevents

Have fun!

English will be fine.

The Museum of Fine Arts is nice-- up in that part of town there are lots of large impressive government buildings from the 19th c, if you like that sort of thing. See if the Sablon market is on (antiques and such, and the church there is nice, too). Perhaps just wander around town looking at the nice buildings-- if you like Art Nouveau check out all the Victor Horta stuff. The Grand Place is neat and there are a lot of nice old streets in the center part of town. You can follow the increasing incidence of souvenir shops to find the Manniken Pis and marvel at the crowd there. The pub that faces that corner-- or one of them-- has a nice beer selection. . . the pub with a marionette theme, can’t recall the name. There are lots of kooky antique stores south-ish from the Sablon. The Comics Museum is. . . it’s cool but I think you’d get less out of it if you had little French and Dutch or didn’t already know much about Belgian strips.
To eat: mussels and frites of course, or stoverij/ beef bourgondie, or (mmmm!) vol au vent. Do NOT have dinner at any of the places along the Beenhouwerstraat (can’t remember the French name-- the butcher street)-- it’s all pretty bad and the waitstaff/press-gang is irritating, although the seafood displays are cool to look at. But if you eat there you will be overcharged and disappointed. There seem to be some good places like, up, west and NW from the courts.
Drink: local lambic beers, spontaneously fermented with a yeast that floats about in the brussels valley region, or trappist beers (the 5 official breweries-- the wannabes arent as good).
There’s a start-- what kind of stuff do you like? I have mixed feelings about Brussels. There’s a lot of cool stuff but compared to elsewhere in Flanders or Wallonia for that matter it’s a bit abusive and snotty and often grotty, and do please be careful in traffic-- they’re insane and I nearly snuff it every time I visit.

English and pointing to stuff works. Not everybody will speak English, but I spent a week in Brussels once and I was fine. They’re used to having a lot of foreigners.

I enjoyed the old fair and that place with all the models of world monuments (I’m still wondering why so many of them were from Spain and whether I should feel flattered), but if you only have one day I’d say just take a good walk downtown. There’s some gorgeous gardens close to the square where City Hall is; the architecture is interesting. Well, “close” by my standards - my big-city cousin would probably be waltrailing two bloody stumps by the time she got there… so, “close” if you’re a walker. Lots of “Brand” stores with prices to faint for.

It’s one of those towns where prices for anything manage to drop by a noticeable factor if you just walk 50 meters from the real big street, careful with that.