Thomas Keller’s Perfect California Itinerary
When Thomas Keller suggests somewhere to eat in Northern California, it would be wise to take heed and try to find a table there. Well, we discovered that Keller is doing more than just recommending restaurants; he’s one of about a dozen chefs who have created full custom itineraries for various gastronomic regions in the U.S., France, and Italy for Relais & Châteaux’s "Routes du Bonheur." His itinerary, of course, takes us through California wine country, starting with a couple of nights at the stunning Hotel Les Mars and dinner at Dry Creek Kitchen, followed by a night at the sumptuous Auberge du Soleil and dinner at, where else, the French Laundry.
Other destinations include Provence, Tuscany, and the Côte d’Azur, with such chef-experts as Stéphane Raimbault, Jean-André Charial, and Carole Bouquet, each with their own luxe tours of the regions they know so well. Charial suggests starting at the Oustau de Baumanière in Provence and visiting the Castelas olive oil press, before settling in for the night at Villa Gallici and going for a calisson tasting at the Confiserie Léonard Parli.
The full itineraries and suggestions are listed so it's easy to poach their recommendations, though these Routes du Bonheur are really full holidays that travelers can book into. For example, Keller’s five-day, four-night wine country jaunt runs $1,470 per person, while Charial’s Provence tour is €1,211. Shorter tours, like the four-day, three-night Tuscany trip, cost a cooler €660.