Saturday, September 4, 2010

It's the Braderie!

While we're waiting on the installation of the new bathroom, I thought I would offer you some other entertainment in the form of cultural history from northern France.

This weekend, it's the Braderie de Lille as is every first weekend of September. A braderie is something you'll find all over northern France as well as Belgium and in simple terms means that either the shops are having big sales or the town is having a kind of flea market or all-town tag sale.

In the case of Lille, however, it goes far beyond this simplistic definition. You see, the Braderie de Lille is the braderie of all braderies. Although the origins are not completely clear, there are stories that date this event back to the Middle Ages and it seems to have been going strong ever since. In modern times, starting about mid-week, signs go up blocking or diverting traffic and the city shuts down (or most of its streets do) to allow for sellers to set up their wares. In a couple of days and for a long weekend, the city transforms into a mix of professional and private sellers coming from all over and offering things such as antique armoires and chests to half-worn out shoes and coats. Anything and everything can be bought and sold from the estimated 10.000 sellers who set up shop at Europe's biggest flea market.

And given the estimated 2 million visitors that the braderie attracts every year, you can imagine that many things are indeed bought and to the some. Though many people come to find a bargain or that perfect piece for their collections, a lot come just for the fun and ambiance of the Braderie because, you see, it doesn't end with just the selling and buying. Oh no. This is northern France where mussels and chips/fries reign supreme and no festival would be complete without your traditional moules frites.

And so if all that walking and browsing and negotiating has gotten you a big peckish, never fear. Pull up a seat at any one of a number of restaurants and enjoy this traditional dish (with mayonnaise for the chips, please) as most of your fellow shoppers will surely be doing. Then you can proudly say that your meal has contributed to another one of the Braderie's traditions that you'll find scattered about the streets.... le tas de moules

1 comment:

MirthQuake said...

A massacre! But I have to admit I like moules! Braderies are fab!