Most have no particular expertise. They are just dealers in “stuff”.
By 9am, traders from Paris, London, Dordrecht and Antwerp have already completed their plundering. They arrive when it’s still dark, vans empty and wallets bulging with cash.
By the time the public start to flock in, they’ve loaded up and are back in their hotels for breakfast before heading for home with new stock for their fashionable antique shops.
We were up and at ’em by 9 o’clock, and nonetheless, there were still plenty of bargains left. After six hours, we had not managed to explore every single nook and cranny.
Some brocanteurs like to cater for specialist tastes. As a result, you find tents stuffed with 1960s and 70’s designer collectables, costume jewellery, tribal art, pictures and paintings, and general bric-a-brac while others bring out early 20th century sports and leisure equipment ranging from cricket bats, croquet mallets and fencing masks to bowls, leather suitcases and even hula hoops.
There are dealers in just about everything under the sun. We even saw an old barn-find motorcycle. There are stalls featuring autographed portraits of movie stars and 1950s toys, studio ceramics and glass.
So, how do you tell a good flea market?
…When you need to go back again despite the fact that it’s on the other side of the English Channel and you consider you might hire a van or trailer to take over next time!
The Medieval city is always worth a visit at any time of the year and is the perfect short-stay destination with many architectural gems, great restaurants and boating on the canals among the multitude of attractions.
* We stayed at the comfortable Hotel Ter Brughe, once a 16th century merchant’s house by one of the waterways in the peaceful St Giles quarter, which is close to the centre of the action. For dates and general enquiries contact the www.visitflanders.com website.