Pick up a bargain at Europe’s biggest and best flea market this September

Toast rack and butter pot

If you love mooching around bric-a-brac stalls and bagging yourself a bargain then you will no doubt enjoy the opportunity to ‘faire les brocantes’ – do the flea markets of the Pas-de-Calais.

And, reputedly the biggest and best of the brocantes in Europe is the Braderie de Lille Flea Market – if you do any flea market in Northern France then make this the one. The whole of the city is transformed into a mega market with around 10,000 stalls occupying about 100 km of road – in short, everywhere you look there is the possibility of turning up an elusive treasure or something utterly scrumptious to eat or drink.

If you are on a serious mission and know exactly what you are looking for then this is the second-hand scenario for you. You’ll find everything from nearly-new furniture, old-fashioned ornaments, and random artefacts to expensive antiques and total tat! There are high-end boutique style stalls selling designer chic gear and more traditional stands selling the usual market wares. In fact, there is so much choice the market has been zoned so you know exactly where to go if you know what you want. A map of the market can be picked up at the tourist office in Lille or you can check it out online. If you haven’t got a clue what you want and are happy to waft about then you won’t be disappointed – the atmosphere alone is good enough to eat! And, if eating is everything to you then be sure to tuck into mussels and chips which seems to be on sale everywhere you go.

The city of Lille is the cultural hub of the region but the flea market which is held in the first weekend of September every year attracts an estimated 2.5 million visitors. As you can imagine, the city gets pretty booked up but you can always stay at Le Moulin. We are an hour and half drive (although the train may be best during this time as the streets are totally choked) from Lille and its famous flea market but a quiet night at our countryside hotel after a hectic day of bargain-hunting and mussel munching may be just what you need. The Grande Braderie de Lille  2016 takes place on Saturday, 3 September to Sunday, 4 September this year so don’t forget to put it in your diary!

Bric a brac markets and shops The British have a long tradition of calling secondhand goods or bits of junk as bric a brac while the French call their bits of second-hand goods ‘bracante’.