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, a witness of the rich commercial past of Lille. In keeping with its long tradition, the Grande Braderie de Lille 2021 will take place on Saturday, September 4, 2021, and Sunday, September 5, 2021.
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 2021, 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 08:00 am to Sunday 6:00 pm on the 4th and 5th September 2021.
What’s new in 2021?
After the Braderie was canceled in 2020 due to the health situation linked to the Covid-19 pandemic, and in 2016 due to fears of terrorist attacks, the event organizers decided to bring some organizational improvements. For the Braderie de Lille 2021, most of these changes have been maintained, but the core area dedicated to the event once more included the neighborhood of Wazemmes, and in particular the Rue Léon Gambetta. Further changes to improve the visitor flow at security checkpoints have been made as well.
For the 2021 editions of the Braderie de Lille, antique dealers will be very widely represented throughout the boulevard Louis XIV and the boulevard de la Liberté (“Antiques & vintage shopping itinerary”). There will also be a large gathering of professional vendors specializing in British antiques between the streets of La Porte de Roubaix and de l’Opera.
The map of the Grande Braderie de Lille 2021 hasn’t been released yet, but it should be identical to 2019 Braderie. You can click on the image below to download the map in pdf on your laptop or iOS/Android device.
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 2021, the Braderie will pursue its path to returning 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. As mentioned earlier in this article, a special “Antiques & vintage shopping itinerary” will be once again set up for professional antique dealers and flea market shoppers along the boulevards Louis XIV and the Boulevard de la Liberté.
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, 2018, and 2019, security was reinforced with 29 access points placed under strict police surveillance and concrete roadblocks. The same security standards should also apply in 2021.
Official Map of the Grande Braderie de Lille 2021
The official map of the Braderie de Lille 2021, generally published by the town administration a few weeks before the event, hasn’t been released yet. This map provides a useful overview the zone that is part of this year’s Braderie. However, it should be very similar to the map of the 2019 edition of the Grande Braderie: Click here to download: Official Map – Grande Braderie de Lille 2019.
Just as last year, the layout of the Braderie de Lille 2021 will again feature areas specifically dedicated to professional antique dealers. Flea market enthusiasts who flock to the Braderie de Lille 2021 to buy antiques and vintage should, therefore, focus their attention on the areas indicated in yellow on the map below. The brocante area mainly includes the Boulevard de la Liberté, Boulevard Louis XIV, the Esplanade, Rue Saint Sauveur, and part of Rue G. de Chatillon.
The organisers tried to preserve 90% of the area that used to be part of the Braderie de Lille before the re-organisation in 2017. This year, the neighbourhood Wazemmes and rue Gambetta, which were not part of the Braderie area in 2017, should be again part of the event. The Grande Braderie 2019 will also very probably includes the Center and Old-Lille neighbourhoods and will open designated spaces outside the core event area to residents who wish to take part in the Braderie.
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.
Dining 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.
Shopping 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 www.lille.fr/Braderie-de-Lille (official website; content in French only).
Parking and Transport at Grande Braderie de Lille 2021
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 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
If you are still wondering whether it is worth going to the Braderie de Lille 2021: just do it! Otherwise, you’ll never know. At the very least, afterward, you’ll be able to say that you have been to Europe’s biggest flea market event.
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