One of the awesome things about Brussels is that it is close to many other awesome places. Drive from Brussels in any direction for about two hours and you’re in another country. Take a fast train and you’re in London or Paris in less than two hours. Germany and Holland are around the corner as well. But often you don’t even have to go that far. Belgium itself has many charming little towns that lend themselves to relaxing day-trips without having to plan transportation in advance or stay anywhere overnight.
Last weekend, my three Brussels friends and I (and yes, if you’re wondering, most of them I met at knit group) took advantage of this general proximity of awesomeness and of the nicest day Belgium has seen this summer, and headed over a bit across the border to France, for the “Braderie de Lille”.
In short, this is an annual weekend-long event in which the whole city of Lille is taken over by a flea-market (said to be the biggest in Europe). Not even the gas station is spared.
There is no traffic, and the city is open to everyone who wants to sell or buy pretty much anything. This results in hordes and hordes of people on the streets.
The atmosphere we experienced was amazing. The sellers seemed to range from typical cheap made-in-China vendors, to professional antique traders, to families who just want to get rid of some stuff from their cellars. The families who simply set up camp in front of their houses were of course my favourites.
There was no pushiness, none of that feeling so usual at fleamarkets, that if you linger for longer than 5 seconds the seller will start haggling immediately. No one yelled at me for taking photos – actually people smiled and posed instead. :)
It was so much fun to go through this big mess of stuff and try to find some special little trinket just for yourself.
And some of the stuff we found seemed to belong in museums.
Some things seemed like the perfect house-ornaments for our crafty souls…
And some of it looked even potentially useful (blocking mittens anyone? ;)
In the end none of us bought much, we spent more time savouring the atmosphere, taking photos and smiling like mad.
But as if the universe knew just how to add a cherry on top of this experience, and make our smiles even bigger, towards the end of the day it led us to this box of buttons from 1920s Paris.
Squeals were heard. And you can bet that none of us four crafters left from this place empty-handed. You’re sure to be seeing some of these beauties in projects to come… ;)