Wednesday, September 21, 2011

La Grande Braderie de Lille

Hello friends, I'm back! I apologize for the long silence but I've plenty of new adventures (including some great Brocante stories) to share with you to make up for it.  Let me start the telling with one of the brocante stories shall we?

If the South of France can boast of L'isle sur la Sorgue's antique fair, the north has the city of Lille's Grande Braderie.  Every first weekend of September (mark it down now in your calendars), the city plays host to one of the biggest antique, flea and second hand markets of Europe.  The date of the very first market is unknown but all agree that by the middle ages, the market started to be a regular feature in the city when servants obtained the right to sell their masters' old and used clothes and goods from sun down till sunrise.  The market has since then evolved of course.  Nowadays both professional dealers and individuals can set up a stall and sell goods. Even the city's shops take this opportunity to slash their prices and offer great bargains.  Its fun and festive with a great street (city) party ambiance. Its just irresistible, and for this brocante fan, a must see!

Despite being in treasure hunting mode, we couldn't help but notice the striking flemish inspired and beautifully restored architecture around Vieux Lille.  And its citizens are justly proud because not so long  ago the city was grimy and full of abandoned slums.

We started with the Vieille Bourse (old Stock Exchange) on Place du General de Gaulle which is actually composed of 24 separate houses. It is handsomely and ornately decorated.  Its central courtyard hosts a wonderful old books and posters market.

old magazines from the 60s and 70s
one of the many bargain bins
From there we followed the flow (more a flood actually) along the old city streets with its 18th century houses..

Till we reached a big Esplanade where the majority of antique dealers were set up.

There was an awful lot of things for sale from old sinks, tiles and piles and piles of dishes and glassware but for some reason what caught my eye were the little cabinets and chests.  Unfortunately as we had taken the train, there was no way to cart back home the things that I wanted. I had to content myself with taking pictures.  (Note to self:next year come  by car with an empty trunk)

Here are some of the more memorable objects we came across..

Look at this beautiful marine inspired chest. I love the map detail with the various sailing knots on the front..

This beauty here is from Napoleon III's epoch and is all original.

Old toys and an old fashioned pram at the back..
Old chalkboards used in schools and bistros...
I wouldn't mind having one of these in my kitchen to write down reminders!
This pretty little lamp has a marble base and still works despite being at least 50 years old.

And finally we spotted what looked like an open chest but one with a little shelf inside and its own stand. I'm very curious as to what this was used for but the seller couldn't tell us.  Hmmm... a mystery chest but one I'm sure a lucky buyer can put to lots of good use.

All too soon the day ended but now that I've had a taste, I'm determined to go back (better prepared) next year! 


  1. I had this on my calendar to go, but with school just getting started, I couldn't find my mojo. Maybe next year. Looks like it was great. Thx for sharing!

  2. WOW! gotta love that market. immensely enjoyable i'd say. that chest looks great! and i have also always wanted old chalkboards in the kitchen. cute and useful! thank you for sharing. hooray for brocantes! :)

  3. How fun!!! Love the old chalkboards and yes, one will look great in the kitchen! That old pram looks so classic.