During the first weekend of September, my husband and I headed to northern France to go to la Braderie de Lille, which is something I had been looking forward to doing all year long. The annual braderie is the largest flea market in Europe and its history dates as far back as the 12th century. The event has evolved over time since its inception during the middle ages, originally being something of a trade show where folks sold their merchandise. Servants at the time had also received permission to sell their masters’ unwanted clothes and things once a year, so they piggy-backed onto the trade show to unload their masters’ goods. Today, over 10,000 professional antique sellers and individual vendors wanting to empty their attics take over more than 100 km of Lille’s streets, setting up stalls on just about every corner of the city. The annual event is held the first weekend of September, starting on Saturday afternoon and goes through the night and ends Sunday evening at around midnight.
A couple of weekends ago, my husband and I crossed the border and ventured over to the land of chocolate and moules frites (mussels and fries). I had only briefly visited Brussels once years ago when I had flown to Paris and driven to the most south eastern corner of Belgium to get my dog, Elroy. During that trip, I was only in Brussels for a few hours, and the only thing I really remember about the city was the rather unremarkable meal that I had that night. From what I’ve gathered, the French don’t hold the Belgians in particularly high esteem and think of themselves and their culture/cuisine as being far superior to that of the Belgians. Given that mediocre meal and their reputation among the French, I didn’t exactly have any sort of expectations, but nevertheless, I still looked forward to leaving the hustle and bustle of Paris for a long weekend to explore the home of the European Commission.
The mister and I just returned from an incredibly relaxing trip to Lisbon, Portugal. Frankly, we knew very little about this country and its capital city, other than the fact that they have a really good soccer team. Heading into Lisbon, we had very few expectations, given that we didn’t know too much about its culture or history, but the longer we were there, the more charmed we became by its people and its calm, laid-back pace of life. In all of my travels, I have never encountered a country with such kind and welcoming people. Even the guys who offered to sell us drugs as we passed by them on the street were not aggressive and seemed pretty harmless.
Living in the Paris area, we find ourselves to be very lucky to be only a stone’s throw away from many destinations that make for perfect day trips. Giverny, being one of these nearby destinations, has been on my list of places to visit for months. So, this past weekend, the mister and I went on a little excursion to visit this quant village that Claude Monet called home during the latter half of his life and inspired many of his famous works.