Taking place once a year on the first weekend of September, La Braderie is the biggest flea market in Europe, and it is AMAZING. With all there is to do and see (not to mention the hoards of people that come into Lille for it), it's easy to get overwhelmed. I had my first experience with the citywide market this year and came away with these tips to have a successful Braderie:
- Find a place to stay WELL in advance. I was in a hostel for the weekend, and I can't tell you how many spontaneous backpackers I saw reception turn away.
- Bring food, water, and good shoes. Trust me.
- Backpacks. I tried to Braderie with just my purse and within two hours I was back in my hostel to get a bigger bag to carry all my purchases. Backpacks are your best bet - easy to carry and don't swing around into the minefield of delicate antiques.
- Get an early start. Many vendors start setting up by 7am, if you're ready to get going that early. The streets get beyond packed around 1pm, so it's best to try to take on the city between 9 and 12...and then repair to a local bar to enjoy the afternoon with a couple beers!
- Eat moules frites. I didn't, so I can't really speak from experience here, but my flatmate assures me I missed out on the BEST part of La Braderie. Apparently, this is a must-eat for next year!
- If you love something but can't fit it in your suitcase, check to see if there is "livrasion" possible - in a lot of cases, you can have your treasures shipped to you!