Looking back, a lot of things spread over several weeks/days had to coordinate.
Some Trover suggestions leading us to two of the most beautiful villages in France.
Which led to me to finding another on our route to Paris.
Several long days of driving searching for aires which turned out closed or in remote regions, tiring me out.
G being in a foul mood over 48hrs causing everyone in our small space to be stressed and on edge.
Having our first sat nav error of the trip - directing us to a non existent Aldi right before a major cross roads.
Me throwing a wobbly. Then deciding that all this shit is happening to me for a reason and that instead of turning left to take everyone up a volcano, I should go right instead and head towards Paris.
Driving longer and further than expected that day.
Staying in a shithole aire we were so eager to see the back of that we left early the next day.
All resulting in us making our typical rumbling entrance into Apremont sur Allier before lunch on Sunday in time for the last day of the Christmas market.
It is a beautiful village complete with castle. Ancient yellow sandstone houses clustered along the road, which runs parallel to the river Allier.
We got out, with low expectations on such a damp, foggy day but intent on having a nice walk. We neared the castle, and discovered they were charging entry to the Christmas market, castle battlements and an atelier pour enfants, we didn't hesitate, two euros handed over and we entered.
Our day had turned for the better...
The market was set up in the old stables. What it lacked for in size, it certainly made up for in tasteful decoration, homeliness, friendliness, affordability and uniqueness.
We picked up a couple of last minute presents then headed up to the battlements.
Weather conditions meant they lacked their normal impressive views, but the kids had fun on the canons.
We then wondered into the atelier,
where the kids were asked if they wanted to do some craft work. Before our travels they might have hesitated, these days when an activity is proposed they get straight in there. Ali and I sat back, had a drink and enjoyed seeing F&G gluing, sticking, cutting, squeezing and drawing all under the direction of one of the organisers of the market.
The organiser turned out to be a fellow well travelled, homeschooling parent of similar aged children. It seemed to me like a meeting that was fated to happen. We had a lovely chat for what felt like FAR too short a time, in what was likely the one quiet period of her entire day (after lunch the village car parks filled and the population of the village must have quadrupled in size). With contact details exchanged hopefully we will meet again...