Once a year the northern city of Lille holds its annual flea market, and it’s a whopper. The largest flea market in Europe, it’s called La Grande Braderie, it runs over the first weekend of September, and it attracts a million visitors from all over France, Belgium, Germany and the U.K. The word braderie comes from the verb brader, which means to sell at cut price. This year, 2013, the dates for La Grande Braderie are August 31st and September 1st.
Over the weekend, the entire city center is closed off to traffic and streets and sidewalks transformed into pavement stalls or pocket-sized plots. Lille, a city which is already laid-back (compared to Paris), lends itself beautifully to the general atmosphere that prevails which is one of conviviality, goodwill, sociability and just good old-fashioned fun. Aside from the stalls that sell everything imaginable from bric-a-bric, books, antiques, clothing, collectibles, you-name-it-they-sell-it, there are also food stalls selling mussels and French fries (a speciality of this northern city), beer, barbecued sausages, etc. There’s also music and dancing in the streets.
Enuff said. The only thing that best illustrates the spirit of this wonderful market are photographs. Here’s a bunch of photos taken from last year’s flea market: