This weekend was Braderie in Bordeaux. I have never had the opportunity to be in France during Les Soldes D’hiver or Winter Sales. France is different than the United States in that sales only occur twice per year. By law, a vendor can not sell items for less than it costs to procure the good so France merchants don’t have regular sales. The two exceptions are state sanctioned summer and winter sales. For a specific date range in the summer and in the winter (usually January and August), vendors are allowed to sell items for cheaper than they bought them. At those two times, the whole country puts goods on sale. It is one giant nationwide sale.
Braderie loosely translates to sidewalk sales. In addition to all of the stores around me having great winter sales, vendors are allowed to set up tables all along Rue Saint Catherine, Rue de la Porte Dijeaux, and a couple of other roads. The two roads I just mentioned are my favorite shopping roads to stroll down anyway so having the booths set up too was just so amazing. It was basically like having a a giant market in the middle of stores I regularly frequent.
There were vendors selling all kinds of goods. We saw shoes, electronics, toys, hats, games, clothes, and many more items. My son picked out a ridiculously overpriced bag of candy from the candy vendor. He also found a very neat monocular from a vendor selling a variety of ancient mechanical devices. And as a bonus, It actually works. I picked up 3 sweaters, 2 scarfs and a pair of pants for 42 euros. By the time I made my 4th and final pass through the nearly 2 miles of booths, I was certain I had gotten the best deals. I pretty much danced the whole way back to my apartment.
I only managed to get my son and husband out with me one of the four times I went, but they did enjoy themselves when they accompanied me Saturday morning (my 3rd time visiting La Braderie). Luckily on Saturday, Bordeaux managed several hours of sunshine and even got a little bit hot during the excursion. I wound up walking over 18,000 steps on Saturday alone and the sales went from Thursday through Saturday. I of course visited every day to see how the prices changed. The morning we spent together on the streets was very fun. I managed to even drag them to a street without sidewalk sales so I could pick up some Nespresso coffee for the machine in my apartment. It’s not hard to convince my son to go there because he loves the Nespresso dark chocolate.
La Braderie was really crowded. We had to just move with the crowed as they moved from one booth to the next. There was no way for cars to get down the streets but most of the streets used for the sidewalk sales are pedestrian only anyways. In fact, Rue Saint Catherine is one of the longest pedestrian shopping streets in all of Europe. Bottom line, if you find yourself in Bordeaux or any other city in France that offers Braderie, definitely check it out and plan on getting many thousand steps in addition to great deals!