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The museum

Absolutely incredible!  Up until now there was no Frietmuseum in the whole world, which means that the Frietmuseum in Bruges is the first and only museum dedicated to potato fries.

Together with delicious Belgian chocolate, the Belgian potato fry is certainly the product that is the most characteristic of Belgian culinary expertise.  Over the years, fries have become known world wide to the delight of adults and children in practically all countries and we can be proud that they actually originate from Belgium.

Therefore, it is not only normal, but even absolutely necessary that the first potato fry museum should be opened in Belgium.

The questions most frequently asked are:

“Where does the potato come from?”
“Was the fry invented in Belgium?”
“What is the secret of making good fries?”

The Frietmuseum  in Bruges gives the answers to all these questions and many more.

This educational museum is housed in the Saaihalle, one of the most beautiful buildings in Bruges, which increases its attraction to tourists even more.  It explains the history of the potato and fries and the different condiments with which they are habitually served.

On the ground floor you can learn about the fascinating history of the potato which originated in Peru more than 10,000 years ago.

On the first floor, the visitor can discover the history of the fries and how they came to Belgium and in the basement of the building, in the medieval cellars, it is even possible to sample some.

The Frietmuseum completes the choice of museums in harmony with all the others which the town of Bruges has to offer and allows the visitor to discover the origins of one of the greatest Belgian culinary specialities, of which we are very proud: potato fries.

The museum was created by the families Cédric and Eddy Van Belle who also created in Bruges the Belgian chocolate museum, Choco-Story, and the domestic lighting museum, Lumina Domestica.

The Saaihalle

This magnificent building, which dates from the 14th century, still contains a certain number of the original remains which have managed to survive and have been preserved. It is also the most ancient building in Bruges which has a date on its front wall.

It is made up of two parts.  The first part was built at the end of the 14th century, dating precisely from 1399, and is the building in which the town of Genoa housed its commercial representation in Bruges and where its representatives lived and stored their merchandise which they imported from Genoa and sold in Bruges.

A second building was annexed in the 15th century. It was originally constructed for the Consul of Genoa.

Although inside the stories are on different levels, the two buildings have progressively been used as one and this has created an unusual tour that is exploited today by the fry museum.

A brochure dedicated specifically to the building can be obtained on demand from the Frietmuseum.

It is also interesting to note that not only did the town of Genoa have a commercial representation in Bruges, but so did Venice and Florence. The three buildings surrounded the establishment owned by the family Van der Beurse, where the merchants used to meet.

As they used to meet up at the Van der Beurse’s house, this probably became known familiarly as at the “Beurse” and is probably how the words beurs, bourse, bolsa or borsa came into being and spread to nearly all languages.

Building work lasted a year and a half.  The façade was carefully cleaned and restored. The windows and doors were repainted.  Inside, protection work was carried out to make the building secure.

Eddy Van Belle explains why they chose this building to house the Frietmuseum.

The Saaihalle is one of the masterpieces of the town of Bruges. The building dates back to the 14th century and not only does it still contain many remains from that period, but on its front wall is engraved the oldest date of any other building in Bruges.

This house certainly deserves to escape from the major building work which would very likely have been needed had it been converted into anything other than a museum.

Indeed, we have not made any alterations inside the building in order to create the visitors’ tour.

It is one of the great advantages of our project that we can show off this magnificent building to the many people who visit it, not only from the outside, but the inside as well.