Lille Braderie

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Every year, the first weekend in September, the city of Lille in France closes off its town centre to hold its annual braderie. No traffic is allowed in the city centre at all and it is an attraction not to be missed. If you like antique fairs, flea markets or car boots then this is the place to go. There are literally thousands of stalls throughout the whole city and it is virtually impossible to see them all in the two days. The stalls range from high end antiques to blankets on the floor outside residents houses where they have just brought goods straight out of their homes. These had some of the most interesting articles I saw. Before the braderie opens on the Saturday there is a marathon through the city, but as soon as the runners have passed each stall the fun begins. It is quite difficult to get anything to eat apart from mussels and chips, as this seems to be the main diet over this weekend. The restaurants, cafes and bars all pile the empty mussel shells in the streets and some of these can be as high as eight feet tall! The braderie carries on all day Sunday and when you get up on Monday morning the streets are immaculate – not a mussel shell or any rubbish in sight! If you decide to go , the Eurostar goes straight to Lille , so you can just go for a day if you wish, but if you want to go for the weekend it is advisable to book your hotel about five or six months in advance as they soon fill up. The only downside is that the hotels all put their prices up for this weekend – but for atmosphere and enjoyment I think it is worth every Euro. I have booked my hotel and am going again this year but combining it with a few extra days in France to make a nice break. I am going by ferry to Calais and driving to Lille, which takes about one and a half hours ( with a couple of stops on route as I am getting older). So, if you want to buy expensive antiques or just bric a bric I can recommend this braderie to anyone. I came home with a car full of bargains and hope to do so again this year. Try it for yourself and happy hunting!!!

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