The flea market at Place du Jeu de Balle, also known as the “Old Market” (the “Vieux Marché” in French), is located in the heart of the Marolles district in Brussels, and is certainly the most famous flea market in Belgium’s capital city: 450 merchants work there every day of the year – this flea market is for professional sellers only.
Built in 1853, along with the nearby rue Blaes, the Place du Jeu de Balle or “Old Market” was originally intended to serve as a playing field for “balle pelote” players (a former version of tennis), a highly prized game in Brussels in the nineteenth century. In 1873 the town council decided to transfer there the “junk and old clothes market” (“den â met”, which means “old market” in Brussels’ dialect), which then occupied the Anneessens square and, in the words of a local councilor, “had a negative impact on the appearance of new central boulevards”.
Today, the “old market” has lost none of its charm of yesteryear, and there is always any and all prizes: antiques, second-hand clothes, and bric-a-brac in a friendly and cosmopolitan atmosphere. Moreover you will have to haggle a bit, because it’s part of the game; but note that there is no market anyhow: we haggle a little, yes, but the prices are the price because you will often find quality items.
Regular visitors of the place will tell you that the best days to go to the flea market in Place du Jeu de Balle, are Thursdays and Fridays. On Saturday and Sunday, however, you might discover some more “specific” or rare items, which usually only come out on the weekend. And whatever the day you choose to go to the flea market of the Place du Jeu de Balle, remember that if you want to put the odds in your favor to find that hidden gem, go early in the morning when dealers unpack their boxes (about 5 pm-5.30 pm).
At the end of your trip to the Place du Jeu de Balle flea market, do not miss to also explore the antique and second-hand shops located nearby, such as in the Grande Rue, Rue Blaes and Sablon Square. You should find there what you are looking for… And if you also go until the Place Saint Catherine, do not forget to make a stop at Stef Antiek, one of the most surprising junk dealer in the Belgian capital.
Antiquing Tip Of The Day
If you’re buying 19th-century furniture, you’re probably looking for pieces that have primary or secondary paint. With newly painted pieces that are trying to look older, there’s usually a repetition in the paint that seems too regular. On a piece that has been banged around for the last 200 years, the paint’s not going to be regular; it’s going to be chipped off in places.
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