“No man needs a vacation so much as the man who has just had one.” – Elbert Hubbard
That quote held especially true for us this summer. The travel bug bit us hard but with Chelsea taking summer courses and me having a full-time job, we had to become weekend warriors if we wanted to fit it all in. I can’t lie and say it wasn’t worth it but let me tell you we were tired after our last flight back from Canada. As much of an oxymoron as it may sound, we needed a getaway to unwind from our getaways. So we tossed some things in a weekender bag and told our Mom to do the same because we were going on a little Mother-Daughter trip to L’Auberge Provençale in Virginia Wine Country.
It’s a really easy and beautiful drive from DC, only around 50 miles so it took us about an hour and 15 minutes to get to the bed and breakfast. The further we got from the city and into the Shenandoah valley, we could actually feel ourselves relaxing. Once we started passing all of the different wineries and horse farms, that’s when the excitement kicked in and we were all ready to check in and unwind.
L’Auberge Provençale was even cuter in person than in the pictures we saw online. Tucked away in Virginia Wine Country, we were in the perfect spot to do the full wine trail, horseback riding, or even white water rafting if we wanted! There were two parts to L’Auberge Provençale. The first is the inn which was the main building and it housed the main office, super cute suites, a new bar, and a restaurant that will change your palette forever (but more on that later). The second is the Villa La Campagnette which is where we stayed.
The Villa La Campagnette is just 3 miles from the main inn of L’Auberge Provençale. The pictures can never do this Shenandoah bed and breakfast justice. The 18 acre Villa was brimming with old growth trees, landscaped gardens, and a view of the horse farm and meadows. The building surrounds a large secluded brick patio with a swimming pool, terracotta pots overflowing with flowers, white cafe tables, and it’s here we met our new best friend and the third Darling (sorry Mom, it ain’t you)… Bernadette.
We actually felt like we were transported into the French countryside from the ambiance of this sunny villa. When we went inside, I cannot even begin to tell you how special we felt that we had the whole Villa to ourselves. There are only three (super spacious) suites in the Villa La Campganette so it was perfect for our quiet Mother-Daughters Getaway. Each of the suites are filled with light and keep the French country feel of L’Auberge Provençale. Downstairs, there is a parlor and a kitchen where the amazing innkeeper had prepared cookies and brownies and lemonade for us. Each of the rooms were bright with their own incredible views and unique feel. There were king size beds and separate sitting areas with couches and chairs in each of the rooms. The bathrooms had hand-painted tiles and we each had our own aromatherapy steam shower. When I thought of living the provincial life I thought of Beauty and the Beast but one thing we had that Belle didn’t… a flat screen TV with Dish network and WiFi. If Belle did have WiFi I wonder what her ID would be… LibraryLover1, BeastsBae6… I digress.
We did come a little too late for the gourmet market picnic basket to go but the innkeepers were kind enough to make us a charcouterie and cheese board with champagne before we hit the wineries. If we did get there a little earlier though they would have prepared a picnic to go with gourmet sandwiches, salads, charcouterie, some pate or chicken chaud froid, fresh fruit, an array of artisan cheeses and baguettes. How special is that?!
There are some really cool packages they offer for adventure, relaxation, horseback riding, but we really just wanted to enjoy our little slice of Europe and visit some wineries. So the inn’s sommelier, Christian, really made the trip special by transporting the three of us on our own private winery tour of his top picks on the Shenandoah trail. Each had their own unique vibe and breathtaking view.
Now that we were all liquored up (kiddinnnnnng) we were ready to eat. L’Auberge Provençale’s acclaimed restaurant, La Table Provencale, is in the main inn and has won Open Table Diners’ Choice award as well as having the wine list win Wine Spectator’s Best of Excellence award. This French/American, farm-to-table restaurant did literally change our palettes. Chelsea is a very picky eater and I’m not a fan of fish… at all. We had the Chef’s tasting menu, though three- and five-courses were an option, and there were things we wouldn’t normally gravitate to, like duck or snapper. I cannot even begin to express how delicious everything we ate was. The three of us devoured each course and it was hard to choose a favorite. It was so good that recently I had snapper at another highly acclaimed restaurant because I loved it at La Table Provencale and it couldn’t even compare. The sommelier, Christian, expertly complimented each dish with a perfectly paired wine that enhanced the flavors. We like sweeter wines (basic I know… rose all day what can I say) and there are over 1,000 wines to choose from at their restaurant. He excelled at selecting the ones to compliment the dish while not diverting too far from our preferred tastes. Great food, great wine, great service, great atmosphere.
“Farm to table” is not a trend here – it is what we have instinctively been doing for over 30 years; it is simply the Provence way. Our gardens provide fresh herbs and vegetables and our orchard is a bounty of fruits in season. We support our local farming community whenever possible and our cuisine is always the freshest and best prepared, often with a modern flair. At “La Table Provencale”, as in Provence, we know where our ingredients come from and treat food with respect.
After dessert, they brought the wheelbarrow over and rolled us back to the Villa where we slept peacefully in our food comas for the rest of the night.
Waking up to the sun we felt refreshed and renewed. We met the innkeepers downstairs in the kitchen of the Villa for another delicious meal. Everything was handmade and elegantly presented. The gourmet breakfast started with homemade granola, fresh fruit, and yogurt served with house-baked breakfast breads & the best croissants I’ve ever eaten…and of course, Cafe au Lait. We talked and laughed with their wonderful company beside us, Bernadette’s adorable self trying to sneak under us, and the most incredible breakfast crepes in the valley in front of us. It was like being among family.
When it was reluctantly time to leave, we felt recharged from our summer of traveling and beyond happy that we’ve found this gem. My Mom summed it up when we were driving away and she took one last glance out the car window, sighed and said “That was really amazing.” L’Auberge Provençale we’ll be back.
Merci beaucoup, Darlings.