Escape to Paris
Rockwell would not have just painted this Virginia town. He would have lived here. Come for a visit and see why.
The streets of Paris--both of them--sit silent this morning. Washington, D.C., surges only an hour to the east, but it could be days away. Walk a few steps, and you'll experience an odd feeling, like you've stepped onto the rural set of a European film. Stacked rock walls and rolling pastures coddle this tiny village on the edge of Virginia's Hunt Country.
A Hamlet Escape
Days pass peacefully in a place with only two streets. The locals--about 62--live in 19th-century homes that hug either Federal or Republican Streets. A few have settled on Paris Mountain, a green hump of the Blue Ridge foothills rising to the south.
Rushing tourists pass quickly through a place with only two businesses. Those lucky enough to really discover Paris--who take the time to really understand Paris--linger for tales in the local shop, enjoy dinner, and spend a restful evening in the inn.
Dine and Recline
The Ashby Inn & Restaurant's main rooms are quaint but lack the privacy of the School House (also part of the Ashby) just down the street. We recommend the Glascock Room in the School House. Its greatest amenity is the large balcony with the absolute best view of the mountain.
For dinner, make reservations for a table on the glassed-in porch. Start with an order of the chargrilled asparagus (cut from the garden) accompanied by figs, prosciutto, and balsamic vinaigrette. Try the signature crab cakes, perfectly seasoned and characterized by the fact there is no filler. (What holds them together? Love?)
The Only Shop in Paris
Gary and Carol Konkel's first dates were antiques hunts. They both loved early American furniture, fell in love with each other, and now sell their finds at An American in Paris. Their annual buying trips in New England, Ohio, North Carolina, and South Carolina uncover well-crafted pieces from the 18th century: Chippendale, Queen Anne, Hepplewhite, and Sheraton, for example. "Those periods represent the highest point in American furniture-making," says Gary. When you really get him talking, though, he'll tell you about another love: "Paris is the most beautiful spot on Earth."
The Ashby Inn & Restaurant: 692 Federal Street; www.ashbyinn.com or (540) 592-3900. Rates: Start at $155. An American in Paris: 694 Federal Street; www.american-in-paris-antiques.com or (540) 592-9008.
A NOTE TO OUR READERS: "Escape to Paris" is from the May 2008 issue of Southern Living. Because prices, dates, and other specifics are subject to change, please check all information to make sure it's still current before making your travel plans.