• La Braderie – Europe's BIGGEST flea market

    by  • Monday, September 7, 2009 • Decorating and interiors, News, Stylish shopping • 32 Comments

    Bethan and I have just got back from a fantastic trip to Lille in France, where we spent many happy hours browsing La Braderie – a massive, annual flea market. We were lucky enough to be practically teleported from London to Lille in just over an hour on the wonderful Eurostar – one minute, we were enjoying breakfast at St Pancras – the next moment we found ourselves standing in Lille town centre, clutching a map and some shopping bags ready for loot.

    la braderie1To begin with, I confess, we had a few map issues. Both of us are a bit ‘geographically challenged’, so we spent a while aimlessly wandering through the outskirts of the market, searching in vain for bric-a-brac. This area of the market was NOT very vintage – think pan pipe CDs, dodgy trainers, manky old nail varnishes, racks of velour tracksuits, smelly hot dog vans etc. Finally, we scraped together enough French (ish) to communicate with a local and were soon directed to the heart of the Braderie. We found ourselves surrounded by beautiful Brocante, and realised we were in Flea Market Heaven.

    la braderie2We kicked off proceedings in the ancient Citadelle, which was full of vintage books, magazines and postcards. I bought a pretty French novel for styling purposes only (my A-Level French is a dim and distant memory!) and Bethan stocked up on gorgeous postcards covered in elegant handwriting. We spent ages admiring some printers’ blocks and found some wicked old hairdressing chairs.

    la braderie3There were so many hundreds of wonderful things, it’s impossible to record, or even remember, them all! There was a lot of taxidermy – interesting, but gross – and we saw lots of lovely rustic wooden wine carriers and old metal watering cans. A gigantic chemist’s chest of drawers caught our eye, and we wished we had a van to transport a lovely cast iron bath back to the UK!

    la braderie4

    la braderie6Lunch at La Braderie is a civilised affair – all the restaurants serve moules frites, then collect the shells in massive piles on the pavements and compete to see who has sold the most. We had a delicious meal, a cheeky glass of wine each, admired our purchases, and then headed back into the throng for more bargaining.

    la braderie5We each found some real gems. Bethan had her eyes peeled for a vintage, white bird cage – luckily, she struck gold and found the perfect one. I bought a galvanised wire log basket, and a 1930s clock. But the best buys of the day were two funky 1950s French learn-to-spell school tableaus, with retro lettering.

    tableau1They were a pair, so we negotiated a deal with the stall holder and bought one each for 10 Euros. Bargainacious. By the time we were back on the luxurious Eurostar, we were completely shattered, but happily laden with vintage treasures. We’re already planning next September’s trip…  – Ellie

    32 Responses to La Braderie – Europe's BIGGEST flea market

    1. Patchwork Harmony
      Monday, September 7, 2009 at 1:22 pm

      wow… this looks amazing! Will have to put it in the diary for next year!! xxx

    2. Patchwork Harmony
      Monday, September 7, 2009 at 1:22 pm

      wow… this looks amazing! Will have to put it in the diary for next year!! xxx

    3. sophie
      Monday, September 7, 2009 at 2:00 pm

      oh WOW! thank you so much for sharing… will DEFINITELY go next year…

    4. sophie
      Monday, September 7, 2009 at 2:00 pm

      oh WOW! thank you so much for sharing… will DEFINITELY go next year…

    5. Joy
      Monday, September 7, 2009 at 2:10 pm

      Oh wow, I adding this to my list of things I must do in my lifetime (and soon).

    6. Joy
      Monday, September 7, 2009 at 2:10 pm

      Oh wow, I adding this to my list of things I must do in my lifetime (and soon).

    7. Taciana
      Monday, September 7, 2009 at 3:46 pm

      this’s just amazing! I’m crazy ’bout visiting europe, specially these small vintage bargain shops which i believe to be the best we can get from anywhere’s culture! It also drives me curious about the old times… au revoir!

    8. Taciana
      Monday, September 7, 2009 at 3:46 pm

      this’s just amazing! I’m crazy ’bout visiting europe, specially these small vintage bargain shops which i believe to be the best we can get from anywhere’s culture! It also drives me curious about the old times… au revoir!

    9. Tammi
      Monday, September 7, 2009 at 7:54 pm

      I LOVED this post! My neice lives in Lille, my husband is French, and I have a really bad case of homesickness for Brittany! Next time I visit my neice in Lille, I will make sure I head to La Braderie.

    10. Tammi
      Monday, September 7, 2009 at 7:54 pm

      I LOVED this post! My neice lives in Lille, my husband is French, and I have a really bad case of homesickness for Brittany! Next time I visit my neice in Lille, I will make sure I head to La Braderie.

    11. theprettyproject
      Monday, September 7, 2009 at 8:12 pm

      I love the old, word books. How great! 🙂

    12. theprettyproject
      Monday, September 7, 2009 at 8:12 pm

      I love the old, word books. How great! 🙂

    13. ooglebloops
      Monday, September 7, 2009 at 10:11 pm

      Great flea market – I am jealous!!!!

    14. ooglebloops
      Monday, September 7, 2009 at 10:11 pm

      Great flea market – I am jealous!!!!

    15. Nicholas Clarke
      Monday, September 7, 2009 at 11:29 pm

      So that’s where my wallet got to

    16. Nicholas Clarke
      Monday, September 7, 2009 at 11:29 pm

      So that’s where my wallet got to

    17. callie grayson
      Tuesday, September 8, 2009 at 1:22 am

      Can I tag along next year!! I will buy the coffee:)
      wow, what an amazing trip!!! Sounds like you had such a wonderful time.
      xx
      callie

    18. callie grayson
      Tuesday, September 8, 2009 at 1:22 am

      Can I tag along next year!! I will buy the coffee:)
      wow, what an amazing trip!!! Sounds like you had such a wonderful time.
      xx
      callie

    19. Moon Faerie
      Tuesday, September 8, 2009 at 11:16 am

      aaaww I want to lose myself in France too *.*

    20. Moon Faerie
      Tuesday, September 8, 2009 at 11:16 am

      aaaww I want to lose myself in France too *.*

    21. Fiona Richards
      Tuesday, September 8, 2009 at 7:32 pm

      Wow this is such a great post – right up my alley! Fantastic pictures too.

    22. Fiona Richards
      Tuesday, September 8, 2009 at 7:32 pm

      Wow this is such a great post – right up my alley! Fantastic pictures too.

    23. Lynne
      Thursday, September 10, 2009 at 6:23 am

      What time did you get there at? It doesn’t sound like you missed any bargains…I’m signing up for next year too!

    24. Lynne
      Thursday, September 10, 2009 at 6:23 am

      What time did you get there at? It doesn’t sound like you missed any bargains…I’m signing up for next year too!

    25. nicole
      Friday, September 11, 2009 at 9:13 am

      gutted I missed it, will definitely be there next year!

    26. nicole
      Friday, September 11, 2009 at 9:13 am

      gutted I missed it, will definitely be there next year!

    27. Dominique Withey
      Wednesday, August 11, 2010 at 12:34 pm

      I have just booked to go with 2 girlfriends this September 2010 and after reading your experience we cannot wait!!

    28. Dominique Withey
      Wednesday, August 11, 2010 at 12:34 pm

      I have just booked to go with 2 girlfriends this September 2010 and after reading your experience we cannot wait!!

    29. Shelley
      Tuesday, September 7, 2010 at 5:30 pm

      My partner and I have just returned from a long weekend in Flanders and this years Braderie. It was all we expected and more! The atmosphere was exhilarating, the bargains too numerous to buy and the food to yummy to resist. In all a fantastic trip with something for everyone. Will definitely go again next year.

    30. Shelley
      Tuesday, September 7, 2010 at 5:30 pm

      My partner and I have just returned from a long weekend in Flanders and this years Braderie. It was all we expected and more! The atmosphere was exhilarating, the bargains too numerous to buy and the food to yummy to resist. In all a fantastic trip with something for everyone. Will definitely go again next year.

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