Jette, Ganshoren Berchem-Ste-Agathe and Koekelberg - Brussels
Despite the geographical disadvantage the six north-west communes have in terms of international schools and businesses, there are some benefits to living in the area for families, particularly in the northern-most cluster comprising Jette, Ganshoren Berchem-Ste-Agathe and Koekelberg. These communes offer comfortable old town houses, child-friendly parks and a quiet, residential feel. Among the green spaces are Jette’s Poelbos nature reserve and Parc Roi Baudouin with its children’s farm as well as the Ganshoren marsh, which boasts a rich birdlife. Berchem-Ste-Agathe in particular retains a rural aspect, with cows grazing on the Zavelenberg farms. Koekelberg is best known for one of the largest churches in the world, the Basilique du Sacré Couer, a vast art deco creation with some gothic touches commissioned in 1905. Molenbeek-St-Jean offers a modern residential atmosphere to the north, but gives way to a bustling immigrant community towards its southern borders with Anderlecht and Brussels city centre. Anderlecht itself is the largest of the north-west communes. Although it is rather unappealing and seedy around the Gare du Midi, it offers the Vanden Stock stadium for football fans, as well as a weekend market in the abbatoir with an incredible array of edible produce and junk. Anderlecht, Jette and Koekelberg have metro connections with the city centre, while bus lines serve the other communes.