Rain or shine, the market takes place every year, always on the first weekend of September. The center of Lille turns into a giant pedestrian zone and nearly one million visitors come to buy, sell, barter, stroll, chat with strangers, drink beer and have a good time. Called La Grande Braderie, (braderie comes from the verb “brader” which means “to dispose of” or “to sell off cheaply”), it’s a festive tradition in this northern city.
The sky was leaden on Saturday and the atmosphere slightly subdued. But the sun came out on Sunday.“How much for the dog?”, I asked. He was sitting on a large postcard collection.Alpha males.This is the only item I bought for 8 euros. Its purpose is to drain rinsed strawberries, radishes, grapes, etc. Not very exciting, I’m afraid.Here’s Martine Aubry, the Socialist mayor of Lille since 2001, much-loved by the Lillois citizens (in the middle wearing a red jacket.)And here’s the Socialist Party booth where beer and “moules-frites” are served, a speciality of the region (mussels and fries). Up until the end of the 1970s, the major industries in Lille were coal, mining and textiles.Every year the local Communist Party puts up their booth called La Lutte Ouvrière (The Workers’ Struggle). An anachronism. I’m amazed that the party still survives.
I walked past the booth and took a photograph.
“Journalist?” a man asked.
“Capitalist!” I replied with a thumbs-up sign, and walked on.