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Bordeaux, France
Built on the banks of the Garonne (and used by Haussmann as a model for Paris), grand 18th-century Bordeaux needs little introduction to wine lovers. You can arrive at many of the region's 8,000 chateaux in under an hour from the city centre; try a day tour with 33Tour Bordeaux Chateaux, from £75.80. (

High ceilings and exposed stone walls set the tone at atmospheric bistronomie specialist Bouchon Bordelais. Their changing lunch menu has different dishes and prices for women (quiche aux poireaux, £6.80), and men (sausage with lentils, £7.66). In the evenings, try the quintessentially Bordelais escargots in red wine sauce or pickled vegetables sautéed in mild spices, followed by pineapple marinated in a light mousse, two courses, £21.30.

Shopping haven Rue des Remparts is home to M le Macaron, whose many macarons include foie gras, chocolate and lychee ginger, from 93p. For fabulous quality local wines, L'Intendant (2 Allées de Tourny; +33 5 56 48 01 29) stocks 15,000 bottles, from 2007 Château Belle-Garde, £4.25, to 1937 Château d'Yquem Sauternes Grand Cru Classé, £3,830.

Head to the ground floor of the Bordeaux Wine Council's 18th-century building, where contemporary Bar à Vin sells wines by the glass, such as 2005 Château le Bernat Saint-Emilion Puisseguin, £3.

Near the city's handsome public gardens, the chic La Maison Bord'eaux has a wine bar and restaurant, with grands vins and fromages menus. The hotel is run by a family of vintners who can organise private tours of châteaux in and around Médoc, Graves-Sauternes and Saint Emilion Pomerol. Doubles from £125.

Palermo, Sicily
This spectacular city of Baroque churches and Arab-Norman palazzos is renowned for its cibo da strada, or street food. Pick up a pane con la milza, a roll filled with chewy strips of fried spleen, or panelle, crispy, savoury fritters made from chickpea flour, at the Vucciria or Ballaro' markets. (

Located in a dimly lit basement near the Giardino Inglese, unpretentious and family-run Cin Cin is an award-winning local institution, with a menu that features sweet and sour vegetable potpourri with toasted pine nuts and fresh ginger, £6, and the classic Palermitano dish bucatini con sarde (pasta with sardines), £6.80. Order the homemade Marsala and raisins semifreddo, £4.25, and a Donnafugata Ben Ryé Passito di Pantelleria dessert wine, £3.40. The chef also runs market cooking classes, £127.70 per person.

Scoff scoops of gelato in various flavours, including hazelnut, jasmine and mulberry, £1.19, from Gelateria Da Ciccio (Corso Dei Mille 79; +39 091 616 1537). Order street food, such as pane con la milza, £2.13, and panelle, £1.70, to go from Antica Focacceria S Francesco. Try famous Sicilian cannoli; tubular crusts with sugar and ricotta filling, £1.27, at Il Capo market.

The aperitivo della casa (house drink) at Oliver Wine Bar is a spritz, made with Aperol and spumante or prosecco or even beer. (Via Francesco Paolo Di Blasi; +39 091 625 6617)

The stately Centrale Palace Hotel, has been restored with antique furnishings and Bohemia crystal chandeliers. Book a candlelit table at their terrace restaurant Ai Tetti, which has great views to the old city - and a divine tagliatelle aux cèpes with parmesan, £13.60. Doubles from £130.

Riga, Latvia
Home to one of the largest open-air markets in Europe, Latvia's capital Riga exhibits Slavic and Germanic influences in both architecture and cuisine. Expect plenty of pork, potatoes and cabbage in dishes such as pirags (bacon-stuffed pastries) and asinsdesa (blood sausage with cowberry sauce), and national dish, herring. Learn more on Eat Riga's food tours, from £15. (

Sourcing ingredients from small farms, day-boat fishermen and a backdoor garden, British-Latvian Martins Ritins is the country's most lauded chef and president of Slow Food Latvia. Enter the minimalist décor and changing mood lighting of his restaurant Vincents to order bone marrow brûlée with local Burgundy escargots and Madeira wine sauce, £8.70, or foie gras ravioli, £15.80.

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