Major Europe flea market in France cancelled over security fears: Mayor

Visitors attending the annual Braderie de Lille flea market on Sept 3, 2011.
Visitors attending the annual Braderie de Lille flea market on Sept 3, 2011.PHOTO: AFP

LILLE (AFP) - One of Europe's biggest flea markets, in the northern French city of Lille, has been cancelled over security fears in the terror-hit country, mayor Martine Aubry said Friday (Aug 5).

“We have really tried our best, but there are risks we cannot reduce,” Aubry told a news conference alongside Michel Lalande, the top government official in the region.  

Lille’s most popular event, held the first weekend of September each year, attracted nearly 2.5 million visitors in 2015.  

Cancelling this year’s Grande Braderie de Lille was a “painful decision”, Aubry said.  

Lalande said the decision was necessary because of the “hyper-urban format (of the market) with its streets full of people.” He added: “There comes a time, despite our passions and our convictions, when we have to say stop.”

The Lille flea market is the latest event to be called off in a string of cancellations following last month’s Bastille Day truck massacre in the Riviera town of Nice that claimed 85 lives following a fireworks display.  

Many traditional and cultural festivities have been either downsized or cancelled altogether, with Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian saying the series of extremist attacks in France put the country in a “war situation”.  

“Everyone must understand that we are in this situation and that sometimes that entails constraints,” he said.  

France has been struck by a series of terror attacks over the 18 months that have left the nation on edge.