Each first weekend of September, Lille (in Northern France) becomes the worldwide capital of flea markets and bargain-hunting, while offering a unique opportunity to discover this colorful Flemish city with its exuberant architecture, witness of the rich commercial past of Lille. In keeping with its long tradition, the Grande Braderie de Lille 2018 will take place on 1st and 2nd September 2018.
The Lille flea market is the largest flea market in Europe and one of the most famous events in France and beyond its borders. The Grande Braderie de Lille fair is the place to find that hidden gem (the “perle rare” as French people would say), harvest nice vintage & retro items in large quantities and, especially, to immerse oneself in an atmosphere that reflects the city itself: warm, friendly, festive, and a foodie heaven – especially for those who enjoy the traditional “moules frites” (mussels with french fries).
In 2018, the city of Lille expects no less than two million visitors, who will walk the city center’s streets to the sound of music from Saturday 8.00am to Sunday 6.00pm on 1st and 2nd September 2018.
What’s new in 2018?
After the Braderie was canceled in 2016 due to fears of terrorist attacks, the event organizers decided to make some changes to the setup in 2017. For the Braderie de Lille 2018, it remains to be seen which of those changes will be maintained, and the City of Lille has already asked residents and visitors to provide feedback and suggestions.
The 2017 re-vamp plans looked as follows:
Improved quality: One of the main complaints of flea market enthusiasts and antique dealers attending the Grande Braderie de Lille, was that this massive flea market had turned into a commercial event used by retail stores to sell their old stocks at a discount. But this was supposed to change in 2017: the overall Braderie was revamped in order to give more space to flea market vendors, antique dealers and local residents. In a statement, Lille’s city council said it wanted to “bring back the original spirit of the Braderie, by offering a larger mix of a yard sale, flea market, and antique fair.” Unfortunately, some seasoned visitors reported that the Braderie de Lille 2017 was slightly disappointing, as it was smaller and had less choice to offer than previous years, as some professional dealers decided to stay away. For 2018, hopes are high that the Braderie will return to its old glory, as the city has proven that the balancing act between security imperatives and pulling off a high-quality flea market event is possible.
More events & celebrations: New sub-events were set up, inspired by the “Lille reste en fête” celebration which replaced the Braderie in 2016. A special Braderie for comic books was organized again at the Palais des Beaux-Arts, while a special Braderie for kids was held at the Gare Saint-Sauveur. Last but not least, a special “Antiques & vintage shopping itinerary” was set up for professional antique dealers and flea market shoppers along the boulevards Louis XIV and the Boulevard de la Liberté. Be sure to check back here for the 2018 agenda of the Braderie. We’ll update the article once it is confirmed.
Increased security: Security has always been paramount to local authorities. This is the reason why, back in 2016, the Grande Braderie de Lille was canceled following the terror attack in Nice, which claimed the lives of 86 people. In 2017, security was reinforced with 29 access points placed under strict police surveillance and concrete roadblocks.
Official Map of the Grande Braderie de Lille
Once the up-to-date official map of the Braderie de Lille 2018 is available, we will share it here. In the meantime: Click here to download: Official Map – Grande Braderie de Lille 2017.
While more space was given to actual professional antique dealers in 2017, the overall surface dedicated to the Grande Braderie de Lille was 10% smaller than usual. In 2017, the Grande Braderie de Lille did not extend to the neighborhoods of Moulins and Wazemmes, where it used to be held on the streets Boulevard Victor-Hugo, Rue de Douai, Rue d’Arras and Rue Gambetta.
As for the Braderie de Lille 2018, we can already tell you that it will again feature an area specially dedicated to professional antiques dealers. Flea market enthusiasts who flock to the Braderie de Lille 2018 to buy antiques and vintage should, therefore, focus on doing their shopping on Boulevard Jean Baptiste Lebas, Boulevard de la Liberté, Boulevard Louis XIV and the Esplanade.
Quick Facts & Travel Information about Lille
Even when the Grande Braderie is not taking over Lille, the city is an excellent destination for a day trip or short break, as Lille is just a couple of hours train journey away from London. And, although it may be French, is also the old capital of Flanders. Indeed, the city’s turbulent history has seen Lille as Flemish, Burgundian, Spanish, Dutch, French, German, French, German and French again. Yet, Lille retains an intrinsic Flemish flavour both in the city’s cuisine, architecture and even in the Ch’ti accent of the locals.
Accommodation in Lille
As two million visitors flock to Lille, it is essential to plan your stay in Lille as much in advance as possible, in order to find a hotel near Braderie de Lille. From classy hotels, apartments to canal side boats, Lille offers a diverse choice of hotels. Make a reservation today and take advantage of free cancellation on most rooms with booking.com – the city fills up fast and it is better to be safe than sorry.
Do & See
Lille’s old town is quite simply gorgeous. Walk its streets, take time to look at its architecture and to walk along its cobbled streets. Start at Grand’ Place – the main market square, and take it from there taking it as many of the sights we have suggested here.
Flemish culture plays a strong role in the cuisine available in Lille. Take a look at the menus and any items with tongue-twisting names will be of Flemish origin. There are brasseries and gastronomic restaurants as well as tea rooms, but be sure not to leave Lille without having tried an estaminet.
Lille is a university town and as such the 200,000 population is mostly under the age of 30. The shopping here reflects that. There are several funky shops that sell gifts ideally suited for weddings and housewarming parties, as well as gorgeous boutiques selling beautiful and sometimes quirky homewares. Artisans sell their wares and an eclectic mix of fashion outlets range from designer names to tiny boutiques. When it comes to shopping, Lille does it with style.
Bars & Nightlife
Be sure to stay up late as Lille is a young city and as a result, there is ample nocturnal entertainment to suit everyone. Funky bars galore, nightclubs, saucy shows and cabarets all jostle for your attention.
If you want to know more about sight-seeing in Lille, have a look at lille-guide.co.uk or braderie-de-lille.fr (official website; content in French only).
Parking and Transport at Grande Braderie de Lille 2018
When planning a trip to Braderie de Lille, many visitors are facing a dilemma. Is it better to go by car, to be able to take home flea market finds easily, or should Braderie visitors come by bus or train, to avoid getting stuck in traffic? We can tell you this: No cars are allowed into the zone dedicated to the Braderie, which will be accessible only on foot, via one of 29 access points. Public transport connections will be reinforced during the event, to make sure you will still be able to get around Lille safely and easily.
If you decide to go by car to the Braderie de Lille, then it is recommended to park it at one of the park & ride facilities in and around Lille. The map below gives you an overview of the facilities available in the entire agglomeration of Lille that are well-connected by train and/or metro to the city-center. Be aware that these facilities are free of charge, but only available to those who buy a local train (TER) or metro ticket (Transpole network) to go into town. Keep in mind that you will need to show your ticket when you leave the P&R facility, and go there before midnight, as they close afterwards (some remain open until 1am). Also note that these facilities are not accessible to bigger vehicles, such as camping cars or vans.
In addition, there are garage operators that rent parking facilities in and around Lille that may be reserved in advance.
Whether you choose to go by car or by public transport to the Braderie de Lille: don’t forget to bring good walking shoes – you will need them when you explore Europe’s biggest flea market.
The Grande Braderie de Lille in Numbers
the number of days during which the Grande Braderie runs (in 2018: Saturday 1st September – Sunday 2nd September | in 2019: Saturday 7th September – Sunday 8th September | in 2020: Saturday 5th September – Sunday 6th September | in 2021: Saturday 4th September – Sunday 5th September| in 2022: Saturday 3rd September – Sunday 4th September)
the number of hours it would take to walk down all the streets of Lille where the Grande Braderie takes place.
the number of kilometers of stands spread all over Lille during the Grande Braderie.
the number of tons of mussels consumed during the 2015 Grande Braderie de Lille (together with 30 tons of french fries!). “Moules frites” are a traditional dish of the Grande Braderie de Lille; every year, restaurants in the city embark on a challenge during the whole event: to stack the biggest pile of empty mussel shells outside of the restaurant!
the year the Grande Braderie de Lille was first mentioned in a written record! What a lasting tradition.
the number of vendors selling at the Grande Braderie de Lille.
the number of counterfeit items seized by customs in 2010 during the event.
2 500 000
the number of visitors at the Grande Braderie de Lille in 2015. In comparison, the Braderie de Rennes, the second largest fair of France welcomes about 400,000 visitors each year (last Wednesday of June).
10 Useful French Phrases to Bargain at the Braderie de Lille
“C’est combien?” – How much is that?
“Quel est votre meilleur prix?” – What is your best price?
“Désolé, c’est trop cher pour moi” – Sorry, it’s too expensive for me
“Pouvez-vous baisser encore le prix?” – Can you go a little lower?
“Vous me faites un prix si j’en prends plusieurs / si je prends tout?” – Is there a discount if I buy more than one / all of them?
“Coupons la poire en deux” – Let’s meet each other in the middle / strike a bargain
“Je n’ai que 20 euros. Est-ce que ça va?” – I only have 20 euros. Is that enough?
“Je peux payer en liquide?” – May I pay in cash?
“Je le prends” – I take it
“Marché conclu!” – Deal!
How to make the most of the Braderie de Lille 2018
This article should serve you as a guide to plan your trip to Lille and help you spend an unforgettable weekend at Lille’s Braderie. To conclude, we have summed up our top advice:
- Plan your accommodation well ahead! Even if you are not yet 100% sure to attend, book a hotel with free cancellation – you have nothing to lose! Lille is booked out well in advance of the event.
- Leave your car at home and bring good walking shoes and stamina – the flea market zone is huge!
- Don’t forget your umbrella! Lille is in the North, where it rains quite a bit, and the weather changes quickly.
- Bring cash if you plan to buy a lot, but be aware of pickpockets that take advantage of the bustling crowds.
- If you plan to buy large items, consider using shipping services to get your flea market finds home.
- In case accommodation in Lille is booked out, book your accommodation in another town in the area, or even in Paris or Brussels, which are well connected by train. But don’t forget to book your train ticket at least a few days in advance!
- If you are still wondering whether it is worth going to the Braderie de Lille 2018: just do it! Otherwise you’ll never know. At the very least, afterwards, you’ll be able to say that you have been to Europe’s biggest flea market event.
Do you have any questions about the Braderie de Lille 2018 flea market or any advice you would like to share? Just leave your comment below!