Until this summer, the closest I’d been to visiting Aix en Provence was dining at one of our favorite spots in Dallas. Lavendou Bistro Provencal.

It’s what I always imagined a cozy little bistro in Aix would be: a simple menu that’s seasonal, accented with fresh herbs, and finished with a bite or two of something absolutely sensational (crème brûlée, anyone?).

Needless to say, the real Aix didn’t disappoint. The four-hour ride on the speedy train from Paris whizzed by as I looked out the window and watched the lavender begin to appear in the fields. Then all the vineyards with their neat little rows of grapes for the region’s signature Rosé. Churches with ornate steeples were nestled in the middle of small villages dotted with charming little homes—the kind a writer dreams of holing up in for weeks (months?) at a time. The itinerary looks something like this: café au lait + pastry, write, explore the town, write, baguette + cheese, write…well, you get the idea.

When we finally arrived in town, I couldn’t help feeling transported somewhere a million miles away from suburbia. As you stroll the cobblestone streets, there are stunning fountains everywhere you turn. A bustling farmer’s market pops up mid-morning with the sweetest strawberries and an array of flowers so mesmerizing I didn’t even know the names of most of them. There’s the sweet scent of fresh crepes emerging from a patisserie, and at the quaint café across the street, a woman shares a corner of her Croque Monsieur with her poodle.

The people-watching was so much fun, not to mention sampling the local cuisine. The first night’s meal was a standout, crispy-skinned sea bass topped with the Mediterranean’s equivalent of pico de gallo and served with ratatouille and jasmine rice. We also made sure not to leave without indulging in some oooey-gooey Camembert with toasted baguette and the tiniest salad I’ve ever seen. A couple of pickled shallots, an arugula leaf or two, and sherry vinaigrette, exactly the amount of salad I want when local cheese is the main event.

And no matter where you are, some nights you just crave pizza. So we shared a Caprese salad (heavenly) along with a couple of slices of thin crust with Prosciutto, mozzarella, basil, and red pepper flakes. Just to make sure we showed our appreciation for what country we were in, we split dark chocolate mousse for dessert (!!!).

While we only had three days in Aix—plus a trio of fun excursions to Sénanque Abbey for the lavender fields, Gordes for incredible vistas and an olive oil tasting, and Arles to see the inspiration behind Vincent Van Gogh’s famed “Cafe Terrace at Night”—we felt right at home before too long.

It’s an easy place to navigate by foot, and I’ll never forget how much we enjoyed everything it has to offer. Since I’ve been back in DFW, I’ve recreated a couple of my favorite meals from Aix with the spices I bought from there (aren’t the containers so stinking cute?).