Lille is in full-on party mode this weekend. As well as making the most of the fun, I’m pleased to report that in our second year here, we have now popped our braderie cherry.
If we had a buyer for our Brighton house and could buy the business we want here in France, we would have bought a lot more at the braderie. There were plenty of things we could have made use of in our future cheese and wine bar.
Instead this rather lovely pupitre – a device used to riddle champagne bottles – will have to do for now. It will fit in wherever we end up, and it will always remind us of Lille.
“I’d like to think people are here to mark my first anniversary in France but it’s clear they have other things on their mind: finding a bargain”
The braderie is the world’s largest antiques fair cum flea market. It’s been part of what has made Lille the city is since the 11th century.
This week, much has been made in the local media about how this year’s event is a return to form, after what I’m told was considered a rather small affair last September. To us, the uninitiated, it seemed massive.
In 2016, because of security fears, there was no braderie at all.
The streets are divided up into different areas for professional sellers and locals having a crack at selling off their old toot. There is plenty of the latter.
It seems the world has come to Lille this weekend. Over 2 million people are expected to have visited the city.
I’d like to think people are here to mark my first anniversary in France – which was on Wednesday – but it’s clear they have other things on their mind: finding a bargain. That can be a tall order, as many of the professionals add a braderie mark up and the local sellers just make up a price on the spot.
Nevertheless, it’s great to be here for our second braderie. There is a real carnival atmosphere in the city.
Because we live in the city centre, there is no way of not getting involved. We even got invited to accompany a group of 20-somethings who were dancing in the street to a pop-up DJ set.
We stayed for the one dance, before leaving them to it.
Judging by the clenching of their jaws, they were either trialling dentures or had spent some time with, ahem, a Columbian relative… Uncle Charlie seemed likely to keep them going into the small hours.
We, however, were tucked up in bed by midnight. After all, we needed a good night’s sleep to prepare us for round 2 today.