Introduction

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Government members, ambassadors, parliamentarians, magistrates, university professors, representatives of the liberal professions, business leaders, artists and writers meet daily over lunch in the heart of the Parc Royal in Brussels in the pleasant surroundings of the Cercle Royal Gaulois, Artistique et Littéraire. The origins of the prestige Cercle date back to the 19th century; it was given its present name in 1950, on the merger of the Cercle Artistique et Littéraire de Bruxelles (1847) and the Cercle Royal Gaulois (1911).

The Cercle organises concerts, exhibitions and conferences; all forms of art are represented, including certain manifestations of the culinary arts, “food being a means of government”. Every Tuesday evening – following a tradition going back to 1971 – a Cercle member is appointed master of fine dining. He creates his menu together with the head chef, presents it to the guests and at the end of the meal is subjected to an appraisal, focusing on criticism without however excluding the possibility of praise.

Alongside intellectual and cultural pursuits, there are also leisure activities: bridge in the afternoons and before and after dinner on Tuesdays, chess, as well as golf, hunting and classic car interest groups.

The Cercle Gaulois offers a convivial atmosphere where people can express themselves openly. All new ideas are of interest provided that the quality is high; the greatest artists, most brilliant speakers and most eminent statesmen are all aware of what an honour it means to be invited to the Cercle Gaulois platform to speak and they all need a common passport: an active mind.