The flea market 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 the most famous flea market in Belgium’s capital city: over 300 merchants work there every day of the year from 6 am to 2 pm and on the weekends from 6 am to 3 pm.
Today the old market, originally built in 1853 as a playing field for “balle pelote,” a highly prized game in Brussels in the 19th century, has certainly not lost its charm. The place is lined with merchants selling everything from fur coats, to tea cups, to African masks, to furniture and even jewellery.
To fully enjoy the Jeu de Balle Flea Market experience, visitors should plan to bring small change (no greater than 10 €) and, if possible, they should make an effort to barter in French. In fact, the less you act like a tourist, the better chances you have in scoring the perfect deal. Regular vistors will tell you that the best days to visit the market are on Thursdays and Fridays, however on Saturdays and Sundays is possible that you may discover more specific or rare items, which are usually only on displayed on the weekends. To put the odds in your favour, if you are looking for that special something should go early in the morning when the dealers start to unpack their boxes. But if you are waiting to score a real deal, wait until the market closes! Many vendors leave some of their more unpopular items scattered around, waiting to be picked up (for free) by those who are willing to do some wandering and digging around the left-over boxes.
Shopping can be tiresome but after spending some time walking around the square, visitors should also venture out to adjacent streets to continue their vintage shopping spree by exploring the antique and second-hand shops located nearby, located on the Grande Rue, Rue Blaes and Sablon Square.
Place du Jeu de Balle Flea Market has also been depicted in a cartoon, it is where TinTin strolls at the beginning of the “Secret of the Unicorn.”