There comes a time every year that strikes fear into the hearts of many Lillois. That time is the Braderie de Lille.
It happens every first weekend of September (or in rare cases, the last weekend of August). Parts of the city turn into an open air flea market/party/what have you. It attracts millions of visitors and is considered the biggest braderie in Europe.
It’s definitely something to visit once as it’s quite impressive. I’ve gone every year since 2011. And every year, I like it less and less. We weren’t planning on going last year, but J’s parents came up, so we did go. Their thoughts? It’s nice, and they’re happy to have done it, but never again.
This year, we were planning on leaving Lille completely, but with finances being tight, we decided to hang out with our friend who lives just outside of Lille.
The day before the Braderie officially started, our neighborhood (which is braderie free thankfully) turned into one big parking lot. Every spot was fair game – the sidewalks, the grass, blocking fire hydrants, the medians – not fun for pedestrians! Worse is that the police don’t ticket the illegally parked even if it poses a danger to those walking.
The crowds are one thing – hello human traffic jams- but what the city doesn’t advertise is that Lille becomes one open air trash dump with garbage, broken glass, and urine everywhere. Not exactly pleasant for people who live here. Even our neighborhood was trashed, and we don’t even host the braderie just to give you an idea. And unfortunately, as the braderie doesn’t take place where we live, the city didn’t clean up the mess. We spent about a week dodging trash heaps and broken glass until a heavy rain storm washed most of it away.
So needless to say, our plan for the braderie weekend involved eating at one of our favorite food trucks and then heading out to our friend’s for drinks and a barbecue.
We met up with our friend and wandered the braderie a bit but grew tired of it quickly and headed to her place. We originally planned on staying over, but another fun thing about braderie time is the increase in break ins. So we felt that we should be present during the night hours. Still, we gathered up any electronics or other valuables and took them with us just in case.
We had a lovely braderie free afternoon and evening with good company which is exactly what we needed.
The following day, we didn’t want to be locked up inside all day, so we sucked it up and headed out to explore a bit of the braderie, keeping to the less busy areas. Luckily, it seemed like the crappy weather was also keeping some people away.
I snapped a few pictures when I could (there was no way I was pulling out my phone in a massive crowd).
We only made one purchase at the Braderie. A nice little sweatshirt for Elliot – perfect for the chilly temps were currently having.
We’re not looking forward to next year.
Have you ever visited the Braderie de Lille? If so, what were your impressions? Or, is there a local event where you live that annoys you?