Lille street market has its origins in Lille Fair, which was first recorded in the 12th century. It takes place every year on the first weekend in September. Preceded by a semi-marathon on Saturday morning, it officially starts at 2 pm Saturday and finishes at 11 pm on Sunday, without interruption. During these 33 hours, 10,000 exhibitors including 300 professional second-hand goods dealers offer a hundred or so kilometres of stalls to around 3 million visitors. Almost anything can be bought and sold at one of the biggest flea markets in Europe. The city of Lille is transformed into an immense pedestrian area where traders, second-hand goods dealers and bargain-hunters keep a commercial and festive tradition alive.
Mussels and chips, the traditional dish eaten at the street market, are served in all the city’s restaurants, often accompanied by a local beer. Everyone then takes part in an informal contest to amass the highest pile of empty shells in front of their establishment. 500 tonnes of mussels and 30 tonnes of chips are eaten every year. So the street market is also a great gastronomic celebration offering a real popular spectacle.