Lille Braderie

Lille Braderie

Lille Brocante - A Stall

It was for the second year that I headed with uncontainable excitement to Lille Braderie, one of the largest flea markets in Europe stretching over 100 km and with a reported 10,000 sellers.

According to Wiki its origins date back to the twelfth century and it used to be a five day affair. Now it is always held on the first weekend of September from Saturday to Sunday, although those in the know say the selling starts a lot earlier.  Some vendors camp for over two weeks to secure their spot – certain areas (we loved the area around Boulevard Jean-Baptiste Lebas) are known for selling genuine antiques with a larger price or the more serious dealers and vintage, to other streets that have general household sellers clearing out their cupboards.

This is one man's stall!

This is one man’s stall!

I had been hearing about it for many years and for my first visit I was lucky enough to go with my friend Michele to stay with her wonderful artist friend Edith, right in the centre of Lille.  I understand that if you are not fortunate enough to be staying with friends then it is wise to book accommodation many months in advance.  We certainly booked our Eurostar tickets as soon as they were released (about 5 months before.)

If you’re not into crowds then it may not be for you, with over 2 million visitors some parts become jam packed and quite difficult to negotiate. But saying that, certainly by our second visit this year, we soon learned what were our favourite areas to shop and they were not crowded at all.

We walked 9 hours each day, shopping, admiring, oohing and aahing and wishing we could take some of the bigger pieces back home. However, having only brought a wheelie shopper it was impossible and one had to be quite selective on what we purchased.

Lille Braderie

One thing I had on my shopping list but didn’t find in the numerous streets we shopped were vintage textiles and haberdashery.  There was one stall but the quality wasn’t great if you were thinking of selling on – I think it is much harder now to find quality vintage/antique haberdashery – however, maybe I already have a lot of it downstairs!! If you are after French linen and monogrammed sheets then there are certainly plenty of choices.

I would suggest getting up and heading out early, to avoid the later afternoon crowds and party goers, if you want to do a bit of serious shopping. Food choices – well you’re spoilt for choice.  The weekend offers the traditional moules frites and evidently there’s a competition amongst restaurants to see who can create the biggest mound of empty mussel shells. Also what I loved is the fact that some families come out of their apartments, set up their little food stalls and offered home baked goodies and fresh coffee and tea.  There is certainly no shortage of lovely things to eat. Toilets on the other hand are a bit more problematic and will necessitate a much needed cafe stop.

We've snacked here two years running a home-baked stall on Boulevard Jean-Baptiste Lebas - lovely home baked French tarts

We’ve snacked here two years running – a home-baked stall on Boulevard Jean-Baptiste Lebas – lovely Apple / Pear tarts – she says this is why her husband married her!

Four of us went this year and we stayed with lovely Edith again, who kindly and patiently takes us around on the first day showing us the different areas.  Some of the following photos are the girls snaps which they have kindly let me use – thanks girls!

As they say a picture speaks a thousand words – so scroll on…..

I so wanted to buy this one!

I so wanted to buy this one!
Photo: Courtesy M Gudino-Resendiz

Vintage cutlery

A stall at Lille Braderie

Trending 2013 catwalk colours!

Vintage Till

Gorgeous Vintage Tin

I really wanted this old tin but it was too expensive at £30 – really!

little yellow car

Photo: courtesy E White

Photo: courtesy E White

Photo: courtesy E White

Photo: courtesy E White

Photo: courtesy E White

Photo: courtesy E White

Wanted those red numbers but just couldn’t take them home on the train. They would be great for a 60th party
Photo: courtesy E White

Couldn't resist buying her - such a lovely face

Couldn’t resist buying her – such a lovely face

Clocks and stools

A stall at Braderie Lille

Lille Braderie

A lovely tantalus!

If you can’t face all the walking to the different areas the underground is very easy to use and you can buy a weekend pass.  On arrival also pick up the Braderie map which is printed specially for the event.  Lille Tourism Office is a good website to check out and also offers a few good packages including a shopping tour, cooking course or the ‘unusual Lille’ where you are driven around in a 2cv French car by your tour guide whilst being entertained by wonderful anecdotes and historical stories! Sadly you won’t be able to do this on the weekend as it all becomes a no car zone.

Make sure you visit the old town – one of the most popular but also one of the most crowded places, so do go early. You’ll find lovely restaurants and cafe’s here.

Lille patisserie

Cooking the day’s treats

I loved this photo in one of the cafes we stopped in!

Milking the cows

Milking the cows

You can also follow the official Braderie twitter @BraderieLille59.

So, start writing out your shopping list and I’ll see you there next year.




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  1. Beverley says

    Fabulous photos…. I’m so envious !!!! I’d love to go next year.. With a huge empty suitcase.
    Lucky you!
    See you at Lille next year….
    Inspiring read


  2. Lottie says

    Love that photo of you in the curtains! It makes me smile every time I see it. Great report and adorable images….


  3. Sarah Butterworth says

    My husband just found this blog- this is right up our streets and have now booked to go this year with a large car and a roof box.
    So excited x


    • cary says

      Thank you Sarah – yes it is fabulous and you will find some fantastic things – I am sobbing as I can’t go this year…


  4. Jamie & Samantha Fish says

    Great pictures! we are going for the first time next week! can you advice on the best areas? re the one off people…
    thanks again and please do check out our site and FB page


    Jamie & Sam
    Poole, dorset


    • cary says

      Hi Jamie and Sam – you are in for a treat – it is really fab. Sorry I can’t remember the name of the road which we thought was best I’ve tried to find it on a map! tells you of some areas as I am not sure what you may be looking for. You will surely just find lots by wondering around. Enjoy


  5. Jamie Fish says

    We loved it and even ended up in a brocante in Belguim on the Sunday! Do check out our blog for our report…
    love the fishes…

    Team fish4junk


    • cary says

      I know isn’t it fantastic – great to hear you enjoyed – I am getting withdrawals – Happy New Year Best wishes Cary


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