Each year, during the first weekend of September, two million people descend on the northern-France town of Lille for La Grande Brasserie - a city-wide flea market that is the largest and most celebrated in Europe. Just heaven for a chineuse such as myself.
My friend Gemma and I visited Lille for the Braderie in 2013, a last minute minute decision that proved that staying in Lille this particular weekend is more difficult that expected if you’re not prepared! We couch-surfed for accommodation and used a car-sharing service to return back to Paris. But the effort was well worth it. It really is enormous and so festive.
Since its creation in the middle ages it’s grown into a much more commercial event, with many stands selling multiple items of mass-produced house-hold items, but there are pockets of great flea stands, mainly around the Quai de Wault in the north and surrounding the park on Boulevard Jean-Baptiste Lebas in the south.
For lunch, the only thing to eat is moules et frites (mussels and fries). The towers of mussel shells piled high outside each bistro can be alarming, but they’re there as each bistro competes with each other for the highest pile at the end of the weekend. Also, it is good to point out that, despite the Braderie being advertised as running non-stop for 33 hours (from 2pm on Saturday to 11pm on the Sunday), many stall-holders close their stand for the night, very few are kept open and the city is filled with wild party-goers than wandering chineurs.
La Grande Braderie de Lille
First weekend in September, every year