Welcome to Brussels – Welcome to Our School
Are you moving to Brussels with your young family? If so, you may want to consider living in or near the suburb of Watermael-Boitsfort, and sending your child to La Roseraie kindergarten or Les Cèdres primary school.
A French-speaking part of Brussels, Watermael-Boitsfort is a calm, green suburb, well served by public transport (metro, bus and tram). Away from the hustle and bustle of the central city, it’s ideal for families with children.
Both our kindergarten and primary school are State-run schools, meaning there are no eye-watering fees to pay. And your child will mix with local children, developing a truly Belgian perspective on life.
The kindergarten is located on the Rue du Loutrier, and the primary school is just over the road on the Rue du Gruyer, both in the heart of Watermael-Boitsfort. Nearby is the Place Keym, a peaceful shopping area with a supermarket, pharmacy, public library and cafés.
La Roseraie kindergarten
La Roseraie means “rose garden”. The name comes from the roses you can see growing in front of the kindergarten.
La Roseraie is a friendly place, surrounded by greenery, where children can enjoy themselves. It accepts children from aged 2½ to 6 years old. The classrooms are spacious and bright, and are interconnected to encourage contact between teachers and between children: a family-like environment!
We make time for school-wide activities, including a weekly choir session, five school concerts per year, and an annual school show. We also organise other events with Les Cèdres primary school, so that our children and their parents can get to know it better.
Amongst our classes, we offer what Belgians call “psychomoticity” sessions, which focus on developing children’s motor skills. For children in their second and third full year at La Roseraie, these sessions take place at Les Cèdres primary school. The younger children use our own psychomotricity room, allowing them to enjoy two sessions per week in familiar surroundings.
Day-care is available from 7.30 a.m. and until 6 p.m. Organic hot lunches are available every day but are not compulsory.
La Roseraie is a kindergarten where children enjoy growing up.
Les Cèdres primary school
Les Cèdres means “cedar trees”. The name comes from the Rue des Cèdres, the street that runs past the southern side of the school into the Place Keym.
As at other Belgian primary schools, Les Cèdres offers six grades (or years) of classes. These run from “Première” (Grade 1) through to “Sixième” (Grade 6). Each grade has two classes, which usually average about 15 pupils each.
Which grade your child will join will depend on their age, but we can also take account of how well they speak French. For example, children typically enter Grade 2 at the age of 7. However, if a 7 year-old child speaks little or no French, then the parents may want to discuss with us the advantages of that child starting in Grade 1.
Whichever grade they are in, your child’s day will start at 8.25 am and end at 3.25 pm (except on Wednesdays, when school ends at 11.55 am). There is a lunch break of 90 minutes (again, except on Wednesdays), as well as a 15 minute morning playtime. We have “garderie” (after-school supervision) services available too.
We regularly welcome children from outside Belgium, including Germany, Japan, and the United States.
Life in Watermael-Boitsfort
Background and history
Watermael-Boistfort is one of the 19 municipalities of Brussels. As such, it has its own mayor (‘bourgmestre’) and local council (‘conseil municipal’).
It is located in the South-East of Brussels. Around half of its area is residential, while the other half comprises the Forêt de Soignes, which was the backdrop to the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.
The population has remained more or less constant for many years, at around 25,000 people, including at one stage Hergé, the creator of the Tintin series of comic books.
Originally, Watermael (in the north, closer to the metro line) and Boitsfort (in the south, closer to the tramway) were two separate villages and, although they have been a single political entity for the last two hundred years or so, you will still see signs directing you to ‘Watermael Centre’ and ‘Boitsfort Centre’, as you walk around. At each of the two ‘Centres’, you will find shops, cafés, banks, and a pharmacy.
The meaning of the two names is a matter of debate. For example, some say that Watermael means “court of justice”, from the German “wachter” and the Latin “malum”, while others suggest that it comes from the word for ‘water’. You can learn more about this debate at the local library.
Arriving in Watermael-Boitsfort
If you are moving to Belgium from abroad, including from another European Union country, you will need to visit the local town hall to declare your arrival and start any necessary administrative process.
The Watermael-Boitsfort town hall is in the more southern, Boitsfort area of Watermael-Boitsfort, at the address 1, place Gilson. It has a service dedicated to foreigners (‘Service Étrangers’) which is open every weekday morning from 8 a.m. – 12 noon. Except in July and August, it is also open on Wednesday and Thursday afternoon from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Before you arrive, make sure you have all the necessary documents. You can check what is required with the Belgian embassy or consulate in your home country.
Finding accommodation in Watermael-Boitsfort
Whether looking for an apartment or a house, to rent or to buy, many people use the Internet to find accommodation in Watermael-Boitsfort. One of the most popular websites to do so is Immoweb, which you can find at this address: www.immoweb.be/en. You will need to sign up as a user, but use of the website is free of charge.
Alternatively, several real estate agencies are active in Watermael-Boitsfort. Some well-known agencies include Century 21, ERA, and TREVI Group.
Opening bank accounts in Watermael-Boitsfort
There are bank branches at both Watermael Centre and Boitsfort Centre, including for ING, BNP-Paribas-Fortis, Dexia and Citibank.
To set up an account, you will need to arrange an appointment with a staff member from the relevant branch.