Whether it’s jewellery, clothing, antiques or general bric-a-brac that turns you into a fully-fledged magpie, Europe’s finest flea markets are bound to satisfy your soul. From the enchanting old town of Lille to the sophisticated streets of Munich, here are a few of our favourites… one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, after all!
Dating all the way back to the mid-1100s, the Braderie de Lille is the oldest flea market in Europe. A famous annual event, this market brings the streets of France’s fourth-largest city to a standstill during the first weekend of September as 10,000 hawkers descend on the city. Expect vintage items galore as well as plenty of traditional food to fuel your shopping fire – moules frites (mussels with French fries) are a must-try.
Also known as the Old Market, the Jeu de Balle is the world’s only antique and flea market that’s open 365 days a year. Dealers selling everything from antique porcelain and 19th century crossbows to vinyl records and vintage clothing can be found in this sprawling marketplace, but our advice is to visit on a weekend and be prepared to sift, if you’re looking for the best loot!
This popular Portuguese market used to be made up of stolen goods back in the day – hence it’s moniker which roughly translates as Thieves’ Market – but it has left its shady history firmly in the past. On Tuesdays and Saturdays, the market runs from dawn to early afternoon, so set your alarm in order to stand the best chance of snaffling up the best items of the bunch. Vintage clothing, antiques, coins and books lie alongside handmade artisan goods.
The Der Riesenflohmarkt auf der Theresienwiese might be something of a mouthful but it’s, without doubt, the largest and most famous flea market in Munich. Held once a year on the first Saturday of Munich’s Spring Festival, more than 80,000 visitors from across Europe visit to shop their socks off and haggle their hearts out with the 2,000 vendors on site. Set on the same grounds of the famous Oktoberfest, you’ll find all manner of items from furniture and taxidermy to homeware and electronics just begging to be snapped up.
The IJ-Hallen flea market in Amsterdam may well be known for being a ‘hipster heaven’, but it also attracts everyone from university students looking to kit out their home on the cheap to shop owners looking to stock up on merchandise. The market is held for one weekend every 3-4 weeks in a couple of impressive industrial buildings on Amsterdam’s arty north side. With the excellent galleries, street art, performance venues and restaurants in this part of town, you’ll find plenty to keep you busy, even after you’re all shopped out.
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