This weekend was absolutely insane. I think the only way to describe the Grande Braderie is a Big Mess. Thousands of vendors came from all over the region – Belgium, the Netherlands, all of France, England, and Germany, to celebrate one of the largest flea markets in Europe. Despite a few obstacles during the Braderie, such as the GRIPPE! (swine flu), stores not selling alcohol after 3pm to avoid drunken mobs, a big brawl in the Grand Place between drunkards and police at 4am, and the fact that NO ONE slept well the whole weekend because of all the noise, the Grande Braderie was so awesome and totally fou.
Our friends started arriving on Friday at around 5pm, began the apero while waiting for others to arrive, and watched the madness start to unfold out of our window – vans parked everywhere on the sidewalk, vendors sleeping in tents on the street, and hordes of people arriving to Lille by train, car, or bike every second.
On Saturday, I woke up to a marathon outside our window and all the vendors prepared to sell their goods.
As the minutes passed and the marathon came to an end, the street began to buzz louder and louder. When everyone at the apartment was ready to submerge into the crowds we went out. Here’s a few pictures from the day – quiet streets turned into traffic jams, massive amounts of food to feed the hungry, and policemen on horses to control the crowds. At one point, I was so overwhelmed by the amount of people, by my inability to communicate in French because of exhaustion, and because I dropped kebab grease on my shoe, that I just shut down and felt I could not go on any longer. But, alas, ’tis the Grande Braderie, and thus I forged on!
For lunch on Saturday I tried mussels and fries – the traditional Grande Braderie meal. Lets just say that I can wait until next Grande Braderie to eat mussels again! And, of course, we bought some things for the apartment:
– egg cups
– a big poster for the living room wall
– a mortar and pestle
– a butter dish
– a dress for one euro (I bought this one obviously not for the apartment but for myself)
My friends bought stuff like a carpet, a recipe box full of recipes from the 60s, a tea kettle, TONS of old clothing, including two suits for both Alex and Gaetan who wore them to a big party one night and looked like gangsters from the 20s with their black hats, black suits, and cigarettes. You could literally buy anything at the Braderie – from skis to second hand everything to snakes and lizards.
Here is a view of the Braderie from our window at the height of the weekend. There was a steady stream of people exactly like this from Saturday to Sunday.
All in all, it was a wonderful weekend full of apartment parties, street parties at 4am, and odd purchases. Now, I am absolutely dead and want to stay in a hole for at least a week.
How are your lives? It is the beginning of the first semester for a lot of you – is it going well? And for those of you in the northern hemisphere, did you notice how the weather changed this week so suddenly? It’s COLD now! Summer is really over, true fall is on it’s way!