My boyfriend and I have quickly become a pair of little old people, preferring to spend our weekends in countryside getaways over the busy, bustling nights out in the cities we once preferred. Whether it’s outside of London, New York, or Washington, a pastoral holiday is our preference, and we spend our spare workday moments calendaring our next escape to align with our work travels.
While we were both raised in beachfront towns—he in Australia, me in Florida—we much prefer the mountains, forests, and wooded landscapes, wherever we may find them. One of our earliest trips was to Charlottesville; one of our favorites was the SoHo Farmhouse in Oxfordshire.
The beau wanted to race his Porsche in West Virginia, and I was up to plan a countryside retreat. While I knew that Middleburg would have the charming hotels and great vineyards like Salamander Resort, Middleburg Country Inn, Greenhill, and Boxwood, I was unsure what the other parts of the Shenandoahs might offer.
At first blush, I could only find AirBnBs that were a bit too rustic for my taste. Then, I found L’Auberge Provencale Bed & Breakfast. And, boy, am I glad that I did! This family run B&B is inspired by the French countryside—with food and beverage that is on par with my own experiences in French wine country. Owned by a French chef, Alain Borel, and his charming wife, Celeste. Alain is a fourth-generation chef from Avignon, France, who was raised by his grandparents in their family-run Hotel du Louvre. Today, the family tradition continues as L’Auberge is truly a family operation: their son, Christian, is the sommelier, and many cousins act as waiters in the white tableclothed restaurant.
The property is divided into two: the main location is a beautiful, colonial-style building with a beautiful front porch overlooking the rolling hills of the Shenandoahs. There are traditional, cozy sitting rooms, which have comfy couches, a warm fire, and hot apple cider and fresh cookies. I wiled away the afternoon in the sitting room editing photos and writing while beau was off to the races. The property is rife with history, it was originally the 3rd home on the Estate of Lord Fairfax, where Founding Father, George Washington, was the land surveyor and agent in the 1740s.
On our first night, we were in for a treat. We began our evening with an incredible bottle of champagne, cozied up on the beautiful front porch, arranged by the charming and dapper manager, Bentley. Then, we experienced the full shebang: the L’Auberge tasting dinner in the main dining room, with wine pairs from on-site sommelier, Christian.
The five-course tasting menu was one of the most impressive dining experiences I’ve had to date—and I’ve enjoyed wine-dinners in Washington, New York, along with several European cities and other upscale bed and breakfasts. And, what surprises me is that the price was so reasonable: $135 for the meal, and $89 for the wine pairing.
Christian selected an interesting array of top-notch French wines, as well as a few standout local pairings. The meal was perfectly portioned—while we left very full and very impressed, we were not painfully full, as I have been after meals in France. The main course, the breast of duck, served with figs, carrot risotto, bloody orange and Catoctin rye juice was impeccable, and I don’t normally love duck.
The home run dish was the seared Virginia sea scallops with dried grapes, charred leaks, and a saffron cream. It was rich, buttery, creamy heaven, served with a crisp white for a perfect pairing.
After this incredible meal, we cozied in fireside with a local bottle of rich red, and enjoyed our weekend escape. The rest of my weekend was spent reading, exploring local wineries, and playing with Bernadette, the family’s perfect Bernese mountain dog.
On Saturday evening, we were able to experience dinner at the bar at L’Auberge, which is a casual option that offers the similarly elevated fare from Chef Richard Wright. The menu offers hearty, relatable favorites like crab cakes, fried deviled eggs, butternut squash soup and the like. It was a perfectly accessible, yet delicious meal for us after a busy day of racing and relaxing, respectively.
On Sunday, it was time for brunch, which is a new addition to L’Auberge. Brunch was a seasonal, fall-themed menu of clean, classic favorites, perfectly prepared and beautifully presented. We began with French 75s, which seemed appropriate given the family’s background.
L’Auberge sources much of the food locally including the beautiful, enormous and briny fresh oysters. I love a beautiful tray of oysters on ice, served with lemon wedges and mignonette, and these certainly did not disappoint. And, as with everything from the kitchen, the presentation was stunning.
The pancakes and eggs were a classic breakfast dish, but, yet again, beautiful presented with festive sprigs of rosemary. The dish looked almost too pretty to eat—almost. Two fluffy pumpkin pancakes, served with a fried egg and crispy, perfectly cooked bacon. Bacon nearly always tends to be too greasy, or too crispy, but the kitchen got this just right.
The Eggs Royale was yet another beautiful yet classic iteration on the brunch dish. Classic, fluffy English muffins topped with fresh smoked salmon, sauteed spinach, perfectly poached eggs, and Hollandaise. In a nod to classic plating, there was a delicious roasted tomato to accompany the home fries, which I so appreciated.
Of all the travels and weekend getaways we’ve been privileged to experience, L’Auberge was certainly a favorite for both beau and I. The tasting menu was incredible, the brunch top notch, and the entire experience cozy, comfy, and warm—from the family-style service, to the puppy snuggles, to the fireside afternoons. L’Auberge is just a short two-hour drive from Washington, and the inn is offering many weekend getaways, cooking classes and other packages this winter. Get more information on the website. Just be sure to give the Borels (and Bernadette) my best.
13630 Lord Fairfax Highway
Boyce, VA 22620