Few of the ancient flea markets of Europe have survived the twentieth century developers. But?
Few of the ancient flea markets of Europe have survived the twentieth century developers. But among those that have, are the flea markets of Brussels. Each summer, an annual three-day free-for-all is organised for the bargain hunters in the old part of the city. At night there are balls in the small cafes which front the streets where the goods are laid out.
Like most flea markets, old clothes are one of the specialties, (which may explain the markets' name), but it's no longer the poor who are to be found rummaging through the piles of cast-offs. Old cloths have been fashionable for some time and the many young visitors to Brussels spend hours searching through the cast-offs for wearable bargains.
The serious buyers can shop for furniture, prints, old books and curiosities. To bargain is part of the pleasure and no matter how extravagant the price may seem, or how mean the offer, it is part of the unwritten code of business that negotiations are conducted with good humour.
There are stories of lucky buyers at the two regular flea markets in Brussels taking home Rembrandt and other priceless treasures. The prospect of such luck at the big fair is slim, but it certainly accounts for part of the magnetism.