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L'Auberge Provencale_dining room_credit Jumping Rocks_071818.jpg
The main dining room is a soothing and modern interpretation of a Provencale restaurant. (Image: Jumping Rocks)

Plan a day trip around an epic dinner at L’Auberge Provencale

Ever since indulging in a pretty amazing meal at L’Auberge Provencale last fall, I’ve been plotting and planning an opportunity to go back. Here are a handful of reasons why you should hop in the car and make the 90-minute drive west to the tiny town of Boyce, Va.

Love the Journey AND the Destination

They say it’s all about the journey, not the destination. But it can be about both, right? Take Route 7 west instead of 66 for an opportunity to stop in Purcellville, where you’ll find several adorable antique stores, Catoctin Creek Distillery, a few breweries, awesome burgers and shakes at Market Burger and outstanding crepes, coffees and croque monsieurs at Petite LouLou Creperie. Travel on Route 50, and plan to stop in Middleburg for pie and ice cream sandwiches at Upper Crust Bakery, tastings of locally made hard cider, absinthe and brandy at Mt. Defiance Cidery & Distillery, or treat yourself to an incredible massage at Salamander Resort and Spa. If you do take 66, take a pit stop in Marshall for a sweet treat at Red Truck Bakery, a cup of joe at Cordial Coffee Shop, or a burger at The Whole Ox.

Adorable Inn as Homebase

Since this is an actual inn and the romance quotient is off the charts, you should plan to stay overnight if it’s within your budget. After all, you’ll want to take full advantage of the gorgeous wines sommelier Christian Borel pours without having to worry about driving back to D.C. Check with the inn for deals like "stay two nights and get a third free" from Sundays to Thursdays. It’ll also give you a place to clean up for dinner if you’ve been out enjoying nature (aka, covered in sweat, bug spray and sunblock), but the inn assures us you can come as you are to the bistro or patio. The dining room, however, adheres to a business casual dress code.

Wine, Wine, Wine and more Wine

Being smack dab in the middle of Virginia wine country means wine tasting should definitely be on your agenda. Linden Vineyards, which sits about a half hour south of the inn, is one of my personal favorites both for the quality of the wines and the charming Alpine vibe. Other well-regarded wineries in the area include Glen Manor Vineyards, known for its Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon Blanc and views similar to those of nearby Skyline Drive. To check out an up-and-coming winery, visit the tasting room at Arterra’s cabin in the woods, where you can sample wines made with grapes that benefit from native yeast fermentation.

Reconnect with Nature

As implied in reason two, this is a great place to get outdoorsy. Go horseback riding at Rocking S Ranch, take a dunk in the Shenandoah River by rafting, canoeing or kayaking with Front Royal Canoe Company, or cross Appalachian Trail off your bucket list by taking one of two great hikes near the inn, Bears Den or Raven Rocks. Cool off with a brew and a bar snack at Dirt Farm Brewing, which also features stellar views.

Unforgettable Food

And now for the reason you’re really here—dinner! Chef Richard Wright is the talent at the stove of La Table Provencale, serving luxe and memorable dishes like citrus-cured Scottish salmon with persimmon, apple and horseradish on his four-, five- or seven-course tasting menus, which range from $88-$125 per person. If you can spring for the $75 wine pairings, do it. You won’t regret it. Less expensive options include lunch, brunch or a meal in the newish and modern bar area. Keep your eye on the events page for dinners like the upcoming collaboration with Ashby Inn chef Steve Farrell in August or the harvest wine dinner in September.