After a 3-hour drive we arrived at the port Dover and queued for the boat via a subway sandwich purchase (YUK!). The boat took approx. 1.5 hours which was a calm and hassle free crossing
After getting off the boat it was approx. 1.5 hours’ drive to Lille
It was 1:30 am when we arrived and we got the sense it was going to busy. As we drove the streets to find a place to park our van and get our place where we would camp for the weekend. (Rue de la Porte d ’Ypres). Eventually we found a grass bank that backed on to a football pitch right by a dual carriage way and the main antique sector by the canal on the edge called Citadel.
After setting the back of the van up (blowing up airbeds etc.) and saying good night we woke up at 7am to a sea of vans and fellow antique hunters. Camped by us a father & son team from Bristol aka Fort Custard, x2 Dutch guys with their fab push bikes and Helen the antique dealer from France in her Citroen van called a “Nemo”.
We headed out via a patisserie (croque monsieur & water) and the cash point! The architecture was outstanding and really beautiful on the eye. The owners of these great properties made great use of the colour Grey.
So we got the Citadel section after a 1 min walk! Wow what can I say?
The Citadel was filled with everything you could imagine, French signs, cycles, furniture, toys etc... Being a Friday (and the first day) prices were firm, however we picked up a nice Bruno Mathsson style chair in green.
Be prepared for lots and lots of walking! (I think we walked for nearly 12 hours a day)
Friday night we had a BBQ – fresh steak and salad washed down with a few bottles of Jupiler….
Saturday – different areas, the red gates and the student quarter, but boy was it busy. There was a real sense of community in some of the suburbs
After a long day we decided to pack the van up and grab Saturday night dinner at:
Le Pave Lillois - 129, rue de Saint-Andre, 59800 Lille, France
A lovely meal of moules frites and a cold meat platter, a fab ginger biscuit desert and a beer
Then hit the road to Belgium - destination top secret!
35 min drive and to wake up to a sea of items, cabbage and flowers!
What a long road of dealers and people clearing out there house!
After buying some great items meeting some great people, a crate of Jupiler and a lovely hot dog it was time to follow the road back to Calais and to catch the boat home to Dover.
Then the drive back to Dorset for a shower and a good night’s sleep in a proper bed….
TOP Tips if you are thinking about going to Braderie de Lille flea Market
· Be prepared for lots and lots of walking! Comfy shoes, foot spray and plasters.
· Take a note pad and pen to negotiate price as not all dealers speak English and it makes things really easy.
· Although the organisers quote it starts Saturday get there for Thursday / Friday.
· Things are cheaper on Sunday as it’s the last day, but if you see it buy it! As there over a 1million people visiting.
· Take plenty of Cash!
· Parking / Camping is on the side of roads so you may have to rough it for a few days.
· If you don’t like crowds don’t go on the weekend because some roads you will walk at a snail’s pace.
· Take a sack truck, old ladies trolley or a radio flyer as they are really useful.