THE BEST PLACES YOU'VE NEVER HEARD OF
Scouting Report 2008: Bergerac
Our third-annual rundown of the best new places—as determined by people lucky enough to have exploration be part of their job description.
Britt Karlsson: Cofounder of BKWine, with her husband, Per. The Paris-based company publishes wine newsletters and leads small-group gastronomy and wine tours throughout Europe (bkwine.com).
Born in Sweden and now living in Paris, Britt Karlsson spends half the year visiting about 200 wineries in Europe and South America in her roles as wine journalist, wine judge, wine consultant, and tour guide (on wine-themed trips, of course).
Bergerac is the name of both a wine region and a small city, but travelers often bypass both in favor of nearby higher-profile Bordeaux. And that's a blessing, says Karlsson. Bergerac's cobblestoned streets, inviting markets and shops, and location on the Dordogne River are so appealing that Karlsson now periodically includes the town as a stop—staying at the central Hôtel de Bordeaux—on her tours.
Karlsson recommends pairing a local sweet wine, such as a Monbazillac or Saussignac, with another of Bergerac's specialties: foie gras. "The tenderness of the foie gras is perfect with the luscious sweetness of the wine," she says. "Many small shops, like Godard, sell artisan-made foie gras, which is so much better than what you get at a supermarket. The foie gras entier mi-cuit is my favorite, but everything from the duck is good—the breast and the confit."
Karlsson also raves about the grilled duck breast at L'Enfance de Lard, a reasonably priced restaurant overlooking a fountain and the main square. Even a winter visit comes with its rewards, because that's the season for yet another Bergerac specialty: black truffles.
Information: Round-trip Ryanair flights to Bergerac from London, from $105, or round-trip train tickets from Paris, from $237; Hôtel de Bordeaux, 38 place Gambetta, hotel-bordeaux-bergerac.com, from $85; Godard, 29 rue des Conférences, 011-33/5-53-61-93-49; L'Enfance de Lard, 8 place Pélissière, 011-33/5-53-57-52-88, grilled duck breast $24.