The Braderie de Lille is the BIG one, the biggest flea market in Europe and for lovers of vintage, bargains and old tat this is a place of wonderment and temptation…
Held every September, the Braderie de Lille has been going on for centuries. No one knows for sure why or how it began, but mention of it has been found in documents as far back as 1127. It’s thought that once a year, after the Catholic feast day of Assumption (15 August), foreign merchants were allowed into the city and masters gave their servants unwanted items to sell. The word ‘brader’ means ‘to sell at a low price’ and to this day, non-professional sellers are known as the ‘Bradeux’.
Or perhaps it is because two 15th century butchers who lived in what is now the Rue de la Grande Chaussée, were permitted to sell roast meat from the front of their house during the braderie. The Flemish word for roast is “braden”
Whatever the origin, this fantastic event which has gone on for almost a thousand years, is as popular as ever.
On the first full weekend of each September, Lille is closed to traffic and more than 10,000 vendors set up their stands. Two and a half million eager bargain hunters will rummage their way through 62 miles (100km) of stalls.
And there’s more… Several hundred years ago, during a shortage of meat in the city, canny restaurateurs offered visitors mussels instead. The tradition stuck and to this day visitors are treated to mussels and chips throughout the Braderie. 500 tons of mussels are consumed during the 33 hours the fair takes place and there’s an unofficial competition to see who has the highest mountain of shells outside their restaurant!
Lille Braderie 2015
When: 5-6 September 2015 (times below)…
Top tips: Wear comfortable footwear, get a street map, plus wads of money. Pick up a map of stall types from the tourist office. Take a torch because this event doesn’t take a break just because its night time – it goes on non-stop from the official opening at 14h on Saturday to 11h on Sunday.
Practical information: Because the city is closed to cars during the Braderie, you’ll need to either make sure your car is in the city before it all kicks off or leave it outside at one of the designated car parks and take the train or tram in (details on website (left).
Useful Website: Lille Tourism