Braderie de Lille

Market in Lille

On the first weekend in September, Lille's entire city centre – 200km of footpaths – is transformed into what's billed as the world's largest flea market. It runs nonstop – yes, all night long – from 2pm on Saturday to 11pm on Sunday, when street sweepers emerge to tackle the mounds of mussel shells and old frites (fries) left behind by the merrymakers.

The extravaganza – with stands selling antiques, local delicacies, handicrafts and more – dates from the Middle Ages, when Lillois servants were permitted to hawk their employers' old garments for some extra cash. Lille's tourist office can supply you with a free map of the festivities.