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Belgians love themselves a good flea market, as showcased by Brussels’ famed Place du Jeu de Balle and Ciney’s Biannual Antique Fair, so it’s no wonder that historic Bruges likes to show off its brocante chops for its plentiful international guests as well. Here we introduce five thrift heavens located in the Venice of the North.
Dijver flea market
As far as picturesque market locations go, the canal-side Dijver, with its blankets full of knickknacks and curiosities spread out underneath its trees, is a true winner. The Dijver market is a ‘folkloric market’, meaning that vendors may only sell secondhand stuff of over five decades old, except for those items made by hand by recognised artisans or artists. It’s a lovely place to hunt for vintage children’s toys or forgotten books or to simply bask in the quaintness of it all.
Saturdays and Sundays from 10 am to 6 pm
For a dally amongst ten of thousands of bric-à-brac items, the Zandfeesten is Bruges’ premier brocante and antiques happening. The sprawling market takes place three times every summer on the city’s biggest square, Het Zand, but also at Albert Park and the Beursplein square and its surrounding alleys. International bargain hunters reliably flock to this place for an uninterrupted five kilometres (3.1 miles) of scouring pleasure, and bed and breakfasts around the area fill up fast during these High Mass Sundays in this market-goer land. Luckily, refreshment stands and live brass bands are around to keep you going.
2018 editions: July 1st, August 5th and September 23rd
A hipster-ish idea that’s been developed without a hipster-ish result, Bruges’ one-year-old Brocante Café is still a bit of a local secret (though it already hosts a convenient webshop). Originally, Robbe’s sales hall was a business that focused solely on secondhand household effects, but he and his companions Joke and Caroline have since settled in Bruges’ lively Langestraat in a concept store with a grandmotherly feel. The pleasantly cluttered space has plenty of nooks and crannies one can nestle into with a coffee or a beer while contemplating the purchase of that crystal chandelier, or indeed, the floral-patterned armchair that feels so comfortable on your tush as you sip your drink.
Tuesday to Thursday from 1 pm to 6:30 pm and Friday to Saturday from 10:30 am to 6:30 pm
Langestraat 57, 8000 Bruges, Belgium, +32 494 85 73 95
Dag & Zonne
Recognisable by its deep blue façade and its objects on sale spilling out onto the pavement, Dag & Zonne has reliably been meeting locals’ bargain-hunting needs on non-market days for what seems like forever. Something of a cross between a pawn shop and a dusty treasure cave, it has waterfalls of necklaces dangling from its ceiling, boasts mountains of old watches and presents row upon row of Hellenic and Chinese-style jugs. Don’t be surprised if you bump into a flock of camera-armed tourists inside; this is one of the most photographed shops in all of photogenic Bruges.
Monday to Saturday from 2 pm to 6 pm
Langestraat 3, 8000 Bruges, Belgium, +32 50 33 02 93
A big mess but one harbouring Singer sewing machines, colonial-style salon tables and romantic-looking wooden desks, Ecoshop Bruges experiences a constant ebb and flow of worthwhile antiques. Due to their huge storage facility that also stocks things such as motorcycles, ancient computers and loose car tyres, you might have to rely on your imagination somewhat to see that one alluring piece fitting into your own interior perfectly, but true gems do come in here all the time.
Blauwe Toren, Monikkenwerve 11, 8000 Bruges, Belgium, +32 50 31 07 13