Imagine if you will a car boot sale large enough to swamp a city. Cobbled streets in every direction filled with stalls piled with random vintage tat. Friendly stall holders ready to barter. And lots of good food and coffee for when it all gets too much. No, you’re right, this isn’t the UK – it’s La Braderie, and it happens in Lille every first weekend of September.
Its origins are from the Middle Ages, when servants were allowed to sell their master’s old possessions once a year. The feeling of an attic clear out remains, with street after street of people setting out stalls outside their homes, selling just… whatever. Including a bit of produce.
I went on Saturday on the Eurostar and I had, needless to say, the best time. The dish of the day is Moules Frites, and the shells pile up in the gutter.
You heard that story about an old guy sits by a river and pulls out prize fish after prize fish? He can’t leave his riverside place because it’s just too incredible. ‘This must be heaven,’ he says. ‘Actually, you’re in hell,’ someone corrects him. The point being too much of something can be delightful torture. So it was in Lille. A twenty minute wait for coffee was agony – I could see people buying stuff all around me, some of which I might have wanted to buy.
Did I buy anything? What do you think? I sat on the Eurostar dreaming of arranging it all once I got home. I will present pictures of each one to you in a day or so…