If your idea of hell is a pan pipe band on every corner then Lille’s annual La Braderie is not the place for you. I am tolerant to a point only briefly overcome by a most evil concoction. The James Blunt / Pan Pipe fusion… Oh sweet lord I can’t get it out of my head. If you can get through it then a weekend of moules & frites, beer and junk/antique shopping is ahead of you.
Yes that’s right. This post is about shopping. For dead people’s stuff. It’s one of many a guilty secret. I’ll baulk at the thought of Selfridges but present me with flea markets, junk shops or antique warehouses and I’m happy to wander, breathing in the must and dust hoping to find that mid century coffee grinder that I need in my life.
Ok before I lose the beery crowd I do have something for you. I know how you are obsessive. You like to collect. Beer mats, glasses and the like. Well this is your Mecca. Whether it’s branded ashtrays, pastis & whisky jugs, champagne buckets, beer mats, glasses, branded chalkboards, pumps and even the odd external sign then it’s all here. It took all my willpower not to pick up items for fear of starting a collection.
Refreshments are taken regularly from cafe’s and bars with a choice of sitting in or finding a makeshift bar setup for the weekend. A word to the wise would be to keep the majority of the alcohol for the evening as you may find yourself with that collection of 70s French Women’s Weekly you always dreamed of.
As trade tails off for the evening the bars an bistros fill, the moule shells are piled in the street for collection, such is the sheer volume and the bad schoolboy French gets it’s airing. I have an E in GCSE French in case you want a hint at how bad I am. The stereotype of sophisticated French society isn’t applicable in the places we visit with more Le Coq Sportif and Lacoste per square foot than in Croydon, Liverpool and Leicester combined. As the shells pile, glasses are constantly replenished, with only a brief torrent of rain, thunder & lightening to dampen spirits. In fact far from at as we race into the nearest bar and settle in until the rain stops. The perfect excuse!