Beached in Brussels: deckchairs line urban canal

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Brussels hit the beach on Friday, with the annual summer opening of the Belgian capital’s waterside lido, complete with sand, parasols, deckchairs and beach bars along its post-industrial city center canal.

Known as Bruxelles-les-Bains, or Brussels Spa, it has joined the likes of Paris-Plages on the banks of the Seine in turning over downtown waterside space to sunbathing, play and music.

“Good drinks, good ambiance, good music,” was how Serge Grave, 52, summed up the month-long Brussels event, which began under promisingly blue skies and in warm sunshine.

A social worker in Molenbeek, the borough on the opposite bank of the canal with a grim reputation as home to Islamist militants who have attacked Paris and Brussels, Grave was sipping afternoon drinks with friends in the shade of one of one of several wooden food and drinks stands that line the strand.

“This brings us together,” said art student Burime Ramadani, 18, who has a job at the beach running volleyball and petanque - the local version of bowls.

“It shows Brussels is united and everyone should enjoy it.”

Besides sunbathing and drinking, the event offers music, films, dancing and an emphatically international range of food, from Brazilian churrasco to bagels, Balkan dishes and candy floss.

Additional reporting by Clement Rossignol and Jack Schofield; Editing by Alastair Macdonald