Northern France Tourism : official website

The dealers' stalls take over the streets, the crowd jostles
Dealers try to sell a pink toy car to two visitors
  • Dealers selling
  • © Office de Tourisme de Lille

Mingling with the crowd in Lille

The crowd arrives slowly and scatters across the town’s districts. It soon becomes bustling and the cheerful atmosphere builds. Visitors can participate in the ritual on the many kilometres of streets and respond to dealers’ cries inviting them to purchase from the bargains on offer. It seems to be worth the effort!

The Lille "Braderie" gets organized

Beware! Access to the "braderie" is not possible by car, use the park & ride set up for the event, you can rely on public transport and its sound arrangements to get you safely to your preferred locations. Professional antique enthusiasts choose the Boulevard Jean-Baptiste Lebas, the jumble sellers, the Champs de Mars (where all the noise of the funfair is), the banks of the river Deûle, and the English sell you their crockery near the Opera. Wherever you are, a meal break is a "must" for the ritual mussels and chips; the empty shells pile up in front of the restaurants. Don't get it wrong, the inhabitant of Lille is civilized, it is just a competition, the highest pile is an honour, an old tradition! 

Stall of sun-shaped mirrors
  • Stall of sun-shaped mirrors
  • © Rémi Vimont

The good bargain hunter's golden rule

He is convinced everything has a soul. Marie is crafty bargain hunter, sniffing out rare and unusual objects. With a sharp eye, she goes from exhibitor's stall to exhibitor's stall, digging about and sifting in the smallest nook searching for magnificent finds. Then she'll do up these treasures to give them a new life. Using her imagination, she has the knack of unearthing an old piece furniture for you and it in her way turning it into something smarter, giving it back its dignity. Here she shows us a few of her secrets…

The bargain hunter has spotted an item of bric-à-brac on a stall
  • The treasure dens
  • © Marie-Laurence fauchille
For me bargain hunting is a game, I really go for it as if it were a treasure hunt.

The qualities of a good bargain hunter

By definition a bargain hunter likes walking and is sensitive to the unexpected. Patiently, he leisurely strides miles without any clear, preconceived plan. A curious and intuitive adventurer, he is able to spot furniture, trinkets, fascinating utensils which have a history that he can revive in his own way. He looks beyond the state it is in in order to change its original purpose; he therefore has to be creative and a bit of a handyman. "Everything at home is second hand, my furniture is touched up, I sand it, wax it, buff it up, stain it and sometimes even repaint it. For fun, look at my cup for the man with a moustache, designed so as to stop his whiskers getting in his coffee - irresistible and funny! For me bargain hunting is a game, I really go for it as if it were a treasure hunt".

A special blue cup with a moustache
  • Irresistible and funny: the special mug for the man with a moustache
  • © Brigitte Dufour

When does it start and how does one prepare?

"As regards the Lille "braderie", I cycle round two or three days beforehand, to spot things, get a feel for the place and a perception of what I'll find. Then late Friday afternoon I explore and get started. I make sure I wear good shoes, comfortable clothing, carry a strong backpack, and take another small foldable bag for fragile items. I take a torch for night time and a tape measure in my head because I have an innate sense of space. Notes and coins in my purse amounting to the budget I've previously set myself. My credit card, you never know, if I fancy something and cannot resist the temptation, a cash machine is never far away". 

The bargain hunter explores , the bargain is not far away
  • The bargain hunter - fully equipped and foraging
  • © Marie-Laurence Fauchille

Tips to clinch a good deal?

"The best bargains are to be had if you set out without any precise plan. The golden rule is to develop a feeling of trust between the vendor and yourself as purchaser. The exhibitor will tell you its history, the adventure behind the desired item, and give it uniqueness in your eyes. Don't get too excited yet, take time to offer a reasonable but keen price for otherwise you risk going away empty-handed. Sometimes the price is so low that bargaining would be out-of-place. Finally don't hesitate to ask the right questions, you will get a better deal. Once the price is agreed, you've given your word, that's sacrosanct! You have to decide quickly, a good opportunity doesn't happen twice".

Beware, bargain hunting can become an obsession!

Buyer and seller haggle over an old mirror - close-up
  • The chosen item in your hands
  • © Rémi Vimont