When you can’t travel to France for real, you find a place locally that makes you feel like you’re in France. L’Auberge Provencale, a cute bed & breakfast teeming with flowers, herbs and views of rolling hills and mountains, does just that. The inn functions as a typical bed & breakfast but also offers wonderful packages for a more unique and complete experience. This past September, we were hosted by L’Auberge Provencale to experience their Foodie’s Escape package, a thoughtfully planned 3-day itinerary involving wine, gourmet food, horse riding, and so much more. And today, I’m sharing that experience with you from our arrival on Sunday to our sad departure on Wednesday. This post is a little different than my other posts and isn’t so much a travel guide was much as it is a review of the extensive itinerary. This is a great package for those looking for a romantic getaway or those that just want to experience life in the country. We loved that it took the guesswork out of the equation and all we had to do was look at the itinerary to see what was next.
Located just outside of Winchester VA, the inn is just over an hour away from Washington DC and serves as a country escape for those tired of city life and needing a break from the hustle and bustle. For us, it was a fun time to experience things we had always wanted to do together (horse riding, a couple’s massage, a cooking class….like I said, the itinerary was amazing). We arrived late morning on Sunday and were greeted with a mid-day snack consisting of a delicious bowl of fresh fruit, warm croissants and cafe au lait served Provence-style aka in a bowl.
Once we stuffed ourselves with all sorts of goodies, we headed to our chauffeured wine tour. At first I wondered why it was chauffeured but it only took me halfway through winery #2 to realize why – we were on tasting #7 and I was already feeling the effects of the wine. We visited three wineries during our tour: Arterra, Linden, Glen Manor. They were all special in their own way: Arterra was a small, new winery with a cute display of vine-themed pottery and delicious wines, Linden was more established with delicious red wine and Glen Manor was where we ended our tour and were treated to a packed lunch consisting of cheese, meat, olives and baguettes.
When we got back to the B&B, we rested a bit (since winery tours are so exhausting, you know) and then headed off to dinner at the Bistro. The Bistro is a small hip restaurant, located inside the B&B and with modern decor and a delicious menu. The highlights were the tomato gazpacho, garden salad (trust me), the black & bleu burger and the creme brûlée.
On Monday we woke up refreshed and ready for breakfast. Breakfast was a colorful buffet display of fresh minced fruit, homemade granola (an absolute must-try), yogurt, orange juice and our choice of one menu item. We chose the eggs benedict and crab quiche (actually for 2 days in a row haha!) and fully enjoyed every bit.
After breakfast we headed over to Double H Stables for our horse riding session. We had only ever been riding once and were excited to give it another go. We were led through the woods and countryside after a brief lesson. And while the horses followed the lead horse, they did have a mind of their own, giving us a chance to implement some techniques we learned in our brief lesson. For example: my horse decided to take a shortcut in the woods so I managed to redirect him successfully (obviously after panicking a bit).
We reached the end of the trail and then headed back to the inn for our cooking class. The head chef taught us how to make homemade pasta – let me tell you, it’s not as easy as it looks! We simmered a pan of broth and shallots and stuffed the pasta with a butternut squash mixture. My biggest complaint was that I couldn’t eat 10 bowls of it afterwards – it was SO GOOD.
Too much food so far? Definitely not.
After our homemade lunch, we explored the grounds a bit. There are plenty of benches and chairs to relax at so we just found an empty one and enjoyed the view. L’Auberge Provencale always serves coffee/tea and cookies around 4pm so we made our way over to the main house to check it out. Highlight: coconut macaroons. We sat in the formal living room and started chatting with a couple who was visiting from DC. Drinks and hors d’oeuvres were up next so we made our way to the Bistro for a small sampling of appetizers and relaxed until dinnertime.
Dinner at La Table was a surreal experience. We had a 6 course menu set out for us and it was incredible having the opportunity to try various dishes with their complementary wines.
Tuesday started off the same as Wednesday with breakfast in the main house. Again the selection was fantastic with various croissants, breads and jams. We hung around the B&B for a bit and were given a cooler full of lunch goodies to enjoy at our leisure (you actually get to take the cooler home with you!). Afterwards we headed over to Front Royal Canoe where we embarked on a trek down the Shenandoah River. For those that are worried about strenuous exercise…the journey was pretty easy as your boat drifts in the direction of the river. The hardest part of the adventure, as the people at Front Royal Canoe will tell you, is the hike back up to their shop from the river.
One horse ride and canoe trip later, we were more than ready for our couples’ in-room massage. Dinner that evening was delivered to us in-room and it was a delicious display of cheese, meat, butternut squash soup, bread, a huge garden salad and dessert!
Wednesday arrived too quickly for our tastes and we headed to the breakfast room for one final round of fresh fruit and coffee. Our experience was out of this world and we enjoyed every bit!