In 1948, one afternoon in Rouen, France, 36-year-old Julia Child and her husband, Paul, sat down at the oldest restaurant in France, La Couronne, for lunch, where she ate what she would later describe as “the most exciting meal of my life”: oysters portugaises, sole meunière doused in Normandy butter, a salad with baguettes, and a finale of cheese and coffee.
The lunch marked the beginning of the couple’s years-long stay in France. The couple moved after Paul accepted a new job for the State Department at the American Embassy in Paris, and soon thereafter, Child enrolled in Le Cordon Bleu. They dined on fine cuisine at restaurants like Les Deux Magots, explored Paris, and roamed the French countryside. His black-and-white images show Julia atop Parisian staircases, and cooking among friends. He also took pictures of Paris’s landscape — rooftop views and picturesque city storefronts. Their adventures and Julia’s training at Le Cordon Bleu inspired her iconic cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking, which made her a famous chef.
The book France is a Feast, out October 24 from Thames & Hudson, features more than 200 photographs taken by Paul in France, some of which are being published for the first time. The intimate images chronicle Julia’s discovery of French cooking and the French way of life, and show candid moments of the chef at work in the kitchen. Co-authored by Paul’s great-nephew, Alex Prud’homme, and Katie Pratt, the book also contains stories about the couple’s private life. Click through to preview the book.
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