Advent has got off to a cracking start – a jaw-cracking minus 5 degrees C, and a cracking morning of interesting visits.

We dealt with frozen taps and extra-hungry livestock as quickly as we could this morning and jumped in the car to head to the Gueret hills where the Parc animalier is. This is the wolf park of Chabrière and today it was hosting a Marché de Noël (Christmas market).

Since you could have a wander around the wolf park for free as well as browse at festive stalls, it seemed like an ideal outing. The setting, surrounded by frosted pine trees, was certainly seasonal as well as beautiful.

Rors admiring the wooden wolf carving

And we saw plenty of wolves.

This one was our favorite. Benj christened him Loopy. (Loup is French for wolf, by the way.)

We browsed around the stalls. We really wanted a hot drink but the café was deserted and the only other warm beverage was vin chaud. As we found out a few years ago, that is very potent stuff and not the sort of drink you should drive after imbibing, and even walking can be tricky!

You can't balance on a rock like this after vin chaud!

Rors is a honey fan and he was drawn like a bee to a honey pot – well, the honey stall. He tried a few different sorts and opted for the miel de pissenlit – dandelion honey. It’s a fantastically bright yellow and has a smashing flavour. The stallholder said it was ‘fort’ but that almost implies unpleasantness. This is lovely and I thoroughly recommend it.

We hit McDo’s after the fair for a caffeine shot before the second part of the morning’s activities – but I’ll tell you about that tomorrow!