October 26, 2011

La Braderie de Lille

My fellow Lillois told me that La Braderie de Lille is a giant flee market taking over the entire city. The first weekend in September people come from all over Europe to buy other people’s junk at really reasonable prices, and to sell their own unwanted items.

La Braderie as seen from my window.

Thinking that this would be a great opportunity to buy some small stuff that I didn’t really need but had been wanting for a while, I made a list and was looking forward to getting some really great deals.

I was disappointed. I wanted a cool, old book to turn into a jewelry box, but all the tables with old books were selling them for 15euros or more. I was also hoping to find somebody’s old regular mirror for cheap, but again there were only fancy antique mirrors being sold expensively.

The streets were not filled with other Lillois’ junk as promised.

Les Bradeurs (people who shop at La Braderie) on rue Nationale, with La Grand Place in the background.

Les Bradeurs and the Palais des Beaux Arts.

After extensive searching, I did manage to find booths set up by real Lillois selling things for next to nothing.

I bought a beautiful old book for 1.50euro. At another stand there were old books for .30 centimes, so I bought four. I also managed to buy a really cool German beer glass for 1.50euro. Despite not finding a mirror to my liking (read: inexpensive), I am quite happy with my purchases.

The good news is that there is more to the Braderie than other people’s junk so having the place over run with pricey, albeit cool, things didn’t destroy the spirit of it all.

I saw at least 6 different stands with this set of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.

Beer is cheap and readily available from street venders and I might have drunk over 2 liters of beer throughout the day.

And while it wasn’t in Bergues when FBF and I paid the city made famous by Bienvenue Chez Les Ch’tis a visit, I have now enjoyed frites (fries) from Friterie Momo. The baraque à frites was at La Braderie in all its movie glory. I enjoyed a small frites, and FBF got a fricadelle. Both surpassed expectations.

Chez Momo!

During the Braderie most of the restaurants serve a regional specialty, moules-frites (muscles and fries). They participate in a concours (competition) to see who serves the most moules. While I don’t eat seafood, it was quite enjoyable to walk down the streets and see giant piles of mussels out on display. The restaurant with the biggest pile of moules wins.

A giant pile of moules.

There are also lots of different spectacles put on for free during La Braderie. While it was beautiful and sunny during the day, come night rain started falling like buckets and the events got cancelled.

It wasn’t a total waste, however, as when I was lurking inside the entryway to my apartment building waiting for the rain to stop, the parents of one of my fellow tenants invited me and all my friends into their daughter's place. We had a great time mingling and meeting the neighbors.

While La Braderie has lost some of it's authenticity as a place of one-man's-trash-is-another-man's-teasure, I enjoyed spending the day drinking beer and oogling some of the weirder things people were selling (like, would anyone pay good money for a glass coffee table with a stuffed crocodile as it's base?).


  1. Ooh, did I hear you say French flea market? I love flea markets but it is really hard to find reasonably priced items. Garage and estate sales here in the US are the cheapest and you can usually find SOMETHING you don't need. LOL LOL But I would love to go to a French flea market. FUN.

    I don't care for seafood so muscles (what a pile of muscles) sound horrible to me. YUCK. I once tried oysters and nearly gagged on them. Never again. HA

  2. Having grown up in Maine I'm no stranger to seafood & love a good vat of mussels -- but not THAT many! Jeez, that's a serious pile.

    Recently in Normandy I had moules-frites for the first time in France and it was every bit as good as I hoped it would be. Congrats on your new purchases!

  3. Kris: How my French friends described La Braderie it sounded to be like a garage sell, but everybody does it at the same time and throughout the streets of Lille. Only there were way too many merchants for my taste! Also I agree, oysters are very bizarre. I do like muscles, but I haven't had them since I became a vegetarian!

    A French Frye: That pile was on Saturday night, and the contest continues until Sunday! Needless to say it gets a bit smelly, haha.

    When I studied abroad I tried moules-frites for the first time in Brittany and they were amazing! I gave it up when I became a vegetarian though 4 years ago.


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