de werf via au pays des merveilles-11

If you’ve ever lived or studied in Leuven, you’re bound to know De Werf.  This babbel en knabbelcafé  (“babble and nibble café”)  is every student’s favorite.  With its quirky interior, filled with construction tools (referring to their name, which translates as “the construction site”) and retro knick-knacks, combined with the huge terrace where everybody gets their own blanket, it’s hard not to love this place.  On top of that, their menu and the presentation of the dishes matches perfectly with the quirkiness of the interior.  The food at De Werf is served in lunch boxes, plastic children’s cups or paper bags and their coffee comes in a giant thermos flask, perfect to share with friends.  If you ask for freshly squeezed orange juice, you get oranges, a glass and your very own juicer: do it yourself at it’s finest!  De Werf offers the choice between “tomato soup with meat balls” and “meat balls with tomato soup”, depending on which ingredient you like the most.    Also recommended are their their delicious desserts and their tasty herb bread with feta cheese, my personal favorite.  It’s nearly impossible to leave this place unhappy, so if you’re in Leuven and in need of a little pick-me-up, you know where to go!

Hogeschoolplein 5, 3000 Leuven  – websitefacebook

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collection_ diy via au pays des merveilles

  1. DIY bedside table lamp by Emma-Jane Harbour and her husband Dylan, for Elle.
  2. Gilded marble hexagon serving boards by Sugar & Cloth.
  3. Do-it-yourself tassel garland by Chapter Friday.
  4. DIY vintage tennis racket mirrors by apartment therapy.
  5. Hand sewn clutch by Baroness O.
  6. Hanging rope shelves by a pair and a spare.
  7. Handmade mini macramé plant hangers by free people.
  8. Faux marble drawer knobs by a merry mishap.
  9. DIY hanging table by the merry thought.

View my pinterest board on diy’s here.


where to go in barcelona via au pays des merveilles

When I visited Barcelona for the third time, I did something I’ve never done before: prepare for a trip.  Usually, I prefer traveling without a to do list and I like to be surprised by unsuspected discoveries, but now that I have a smart phone, a well prepared trip seemed a lot less of a hassle than before.  So for the first time ever, I searched blogs (Sir Magazine, Why Not Monday, The Epic Guide and 12hrs) and asked friends (Lise, Lien, Hanna and Mariona) for tips and gathered all of them in one helpful guide.  (When I do research, I do it well!)  Because we had so much fun with this list of Barcelona tips, I decided to gather every place I’ve tested and approved in one blog post.  In the list below, you’ll only find the places that have been approved by yours truly, while on the google map at the end of this post, you can find all the recommendations I found, including the ones I haven’t tested myself.  I trust my friends and fellow blogger’s opinion, so these are still on my to do list for my next visit.  I do think you cannot visit Barcelona without seeing some of Gaudi’s work, so I’ve included some of his buildings and some other touristic must do’s in this list as well.  I’ll warn you: tickets to see these don’t come cheap and it’ll probably be crowded with tourists, but it’s worth it anyway in my opinion.

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FRAGMENTS_ architecture in Barcelona

architecture in barcelona by hannelore veelaert for au pays des merveilles

 In November I made a trip to Barcelona, where I spent a couple of days with a friend and two days on my own.  My friend had to head back sooner than me but I preferred to have more time off from my busy schedule in Belgium.  With “Fiets & the city – Barcelona” in hand, I took the metro to Poblenou to check out their recommendations on modern architecture.  Herzog and de Meuron’s Museu Blau, the natural history museum, was my favorite discovery, with it’s interesting textures and reflections.  Next to Museu Blau, you can also find the Diagonal 00 Telefonica Tower (by Enric Massip-Bosch_EMBA), with its graphic lines.   My last stop was Can Framis, Jodi Badia’s concrete museum which houses a collection of contemporary Catalan art.  As it was Monday, both museums were closed so unfortunately my architectural field trip was limited to outside views only, but worth it anyway.

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EXPLORED_ Bunkers in Barcelona

bunkers in barcelona by hannelore veelaert for au pays des merveilles

In November I made a short trip to Barcelona to escape all the graduation and internship stress.  My travel companion had to head back sooner than me, so I spent a couple of days on my own in this Spanish city.  On my last day in Barcelona, I hiked my way up to the bunkers of El Carmel.  These old remains of an air raid civil war bunker offer the most amazing view over the city of Barcelona and are the perfect spot for a picnic.

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EXPLORED_ bar stan

bar stan by hannelore veelaert for au pays des merveilles

Four locals were convinced that Leuven was still missing something, so they decided to fill the gap themselves.  And they were right, as Bar Stan was an immediate success! I regret that this place only emerged in Leuven after I moved to Antwerp, but whenever I’m in Leuven, I try to stop by to enjoy their living room atmosphere.   Bar Stan is located in a more residential area of the city and makes you feel at home right away with their picture perfect interior, filled with artwork by locals.  You can come here any time of the day, as they offer breakfast, coffee, lunch, after work drinks and dinner, and you can even borrow a picnic basket and blanket to enjoy your order on the grass on the other side of the street.  What’s not to love?

Constantin Meunierstraat 2, 3000 Leuven – website facebook

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COLLECTION_ stationery

collection // stationery - via au pays des merveilles


  1. Colored pencils with brass holder set from Schoolhouse Electric, available here.
  2. Gold foil any-year daily planner in crème, designed by Julia Kostreva.  For sale here.
  3. Marbled notebook from Scout & Catalogue, buy it here.
  4. Classic brass paperclips at Present&Correct.  Purchase them here.
  5. Gold notebook with pastel green and black cover from ARMINHO, find it here.
  6. Customizable calendar stamps by Mizushima, via swiss miss.
  7.  Serax stationery via 70percentpure.
  8. Weekly journal, designed by Els & NelSold out for now, but worth keeping an eye out for next year.
  9. Shapes postcard from Present&Correct.  Available here.

Find more beautiful stationery on my pinterest board.


FRAGMENTS_ Montjuic by Hannelore Veelaert for Au Pays Des Merveilles
In November I made a short trip to Barcelona with my friend and textile designer Ella De Vos.  We both visited the city a couple of times already, so our plan was to do absolutely nothing but relax.  We needed a few days to escape our busy lives in Antwerp and a few days where nothing was planned but drinking coffee or wine and eating tapas seemed perfect to us.

One particular day, we decided to be a little more adventurous, so we followed this book‘s advice and rented bikes to ride up to Montjuic.  Maybe Definitely a little too ambitious for someone who doesn’t work out regularly (the hill is really steep), so we decided to make stops on the way up instead of on the way down, like our city guide recommended.   This still is quite an effort, but the views you get along the way definitely make up for it.

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INSIGHTS_ my bedroom

hannelore veelaert for ikea family live-7

When I moved about a year and a half ago, I promised I’d show some photos of my new bedroom soon.   Somehow I never managed to do so, until I was contacted by Ikea Family Live magazine to share some pictures of my house in one of their online issues.  As I share my home with 3 other people, I’ve limited the photos to only my bedroom, but this is my favorite place in the house anyway. 

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new blog

portret - alexandra bertels-1photo by Alexandra Bertels

Welcome to the new and improved Au Pays Des Merveilles!  It’s been six years since I started blogging under the name Au Pays Des Merveilles and while I still love the name and the sentiment of everlasting wonder behind it, I felt the need to take this blogging thing a little bit more serious.  When I had to take a break from blogging to focus on graduating, it seemed like the perfect time for some blog reflection.  After a much longer break than I anticipated, it is much more clear to me where I want this blog to go and I’m super excited to share more beautiful homes, fascinating people, impressions of cities and their most interesting places, still complemented by collections of all kinds of pretty things.

A little word of explanation on this whole new design: if you go to hello > about, you can find a few words about me and the blog, but also a list of all the cities and countries I’ve visited.  This gives you the chance to browse through the posts by city.  If you go to wanderlust, you can find my Lisbon guide and soon guides for other cities will be added.  I will keep these up to date with new discoveries, so keep an eye on them when you’re traveling to these places!  Under topics, you can find all the categories I’ll be writing about.  Architecture contains all the posts I’ve ever written concerning architecture.  Collection will replace pretty things but the concept stays the same, I’ll regularly share a collection of certain items.  Explored will cover all the places I’ve been to and want to recommend to you: coffee bars, restaurants and shops, but also parks, beaches or cool buildings.  Fragments will show snippets of what I’ve been up to, a broader image of a city I’ve visited and a bit more personal stuff.  Insights gives a peek into someone’s home.  First up is mine, but others will follow soon.  These will focus on people who, just like me, have just started their career or are still figuring things out, who don’t have that much funds (yet) but care about making their place feel like a home anyway.  You won’t see design filled houses but real homes, with hand-me-downs, thrift shop discoveries and surely some Ikea.  For sundaze, I will tag along with someone on their favorite weekend activities, to see their city through their eyes.  Lastly, you’ll find some of the results of my job as a freelance photographer under work.  Everything else is pretty self-explanatory, but if you have questions (or discover some things that don’t work yet), feel free to let me know!

PS.  I’d like to give a little shout-out to Light Morango, who designed this theme.  If you’re in need of a new wordpress theme, be sure to check out her shop!  Her designs are not only super pretty and affordable but they come with a really helpful guide that helps you set up your new lay-out in no time.  On top of that, she’s happy to help if you’re not entirely satisfied with the result or run into some problems.  Two thumbs up!

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