Brocantes and Braderies in France – a way of life and a national passion.
Brocantes are markets with a vintage feel where you’ll find everything under the sun – as long as it’s second-hand, although having said that we’ve often seen stalls with new items such as clothes, and you’ll also often as not come across food stalls and strangely enough sweets stalls! You’ll find items of furniture, things for the kitchen, old books, games, music, hardware goods, art, tableware… Strange and sometimes wonderful items from glass soda siphons to wooden wine crates to stuffed chickens or pigs… it all depends on the brocante.
Braderies are a market or fair (sometimes the term foire is used instead of braderie) – and just like the brocante it means a sale to the public of used items. Generally speaking braderies are larger than brocantes.
The best known is the Braderie de Lille a huge event which takes place the first weekend in September every year and with more than 200km of stall space theres not much chance you won’t find something you like.
The French are a nation of recyclers and guardians of things – they hate to throw something away if it can serve a useful or attractive purpose and this is what drives their love of second hand markets and shops as well as the love of a great bargain!
Going to a brocante or other second hand market gives you an opportunity to pick up some really wonderful or unusual items that you simply won’t see in the shops. You can often find food tents offering the usual burgers or hotdogs and chips, sometimes regional specialities but the happy atmosphere makes up for the lack of gourmet fare!
Here are a couple of useful websites, you can use to search for a market: