Julia Child’s Early Years Stunningly Documented by Husband Paul in Rare Photos (EXCLUSIVE)

Surprisingly, Julia Child could hardly boil an egg when she moved with her new husband, diplomat Paul Child, to France in 1948. There she learned how to cook — and Paul developed his own talent, photographing his wife in beautiful black-and-white images. Now these pictures have been collected in a book, France Is a Feast: The Photographic Journey of Paul and Julia Child, by Alex Prud’homme (Paul’s great-nephew) and Katie Pratt (whose parents were pals of Paul and Julia’s).

They’re also on exhibit at the Napa Valley Museum in Yountville, CA, through May 20. Pasadena, CA-born Julia’s time in France “was a defining moment in her life,” Prud’homme exclusively told Closer Weekly in a new interview. In 1961, she co-wrote Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and the rest is culinary history. On a more private level, the photos express Paul’s amour for Julia.”She was his muse,” Prud’homme said.

france is a feast book julia child
Alex Prud’homme

It was meeting Paul that opened up the culinary world to Julia. “Known for his sophisticated palate,” Paul first “introduced her to the wonders of food,” according to Today. The two married in September 1946, and soon relocated to the French city Rouen. “The whole experience was an opening up of the soul and spirit for me,” Julia once described her first meal in France during an interview.

Sadly, Paul — who was 10 years older than his wife — passed away in 1994. “[He] was a full partner in her career. Not only did he awaken her passion for food but he also encouraged her cooking and helped with the television show by shopping and doing other behind-the-scenes work, as well as serving as her manager and official photographer,” Today explained.

Scroll through the gallery to see some of Paul’s stunning photographs of Julia!