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JULIE & JULIA

From New York To Paris
Once the Julie Powell section of filming was completed, the Julia Child portion began, and cast and crew were plunged fifty years into the past. At Silvercup East Studios, production designer Mark Ricker and his team designed and built an exquisite version of the home Julia and Paul shared in Paris. "They lived in a great house, by the Seine,” says Ricker. "I actually had two photographs that I designed most of the apartment from. There was one that's quite well known, of Julia leaning out a window next to this beautiful curved sunroom. We just replicated that, because how could we not? We couldn't have come up with anything better. 

There was also a picture of Paul and Julia sitting by their fireplace. We replicated that corner and then the apartment just grew from that. Everything else was from imagination, aside from the kitchen, because Paul had taken a number of publicity photos of it. By the time I stitched all the photos together in my mind, I had a 360-degree view of the kitchen, and it was just fantastic. It was up in the rafters of the house, with a beautiful window, great details. And so we just replicated it as much as we could – the tiles, the stove, the sink – everything. Because it was just great.” As for the iconic TV studio kitchen that so many people remember from Julia's legendary series "The French Chef,” Ricker did a lot of his research from her own papers, photographs and letters. 

"She left a treasure trove of information, including a lot of photographs of the ‘French Chef' set,” says Ricker. "So with the combination of having behind-the-scenes photos and just being able to look straight at the DVD, we did the best we could to replicate a set that millions of people are familiar with. That was going to be the one that, of anything, people would know. So we had to get that right.” When it came to exteriors, it was clear to the filmmakers that certain scenes could only be captured in Paris. Ephron was thrilled to bring her movie's Julia Child to the place where she really blossomed. 

"When you see Paris,” recalls Ephron, "you think, well, what else could we have done?” "It was Paris that inspired Julia Child to love food and to master the art of French cooking,” says Mark. "It was eating that very first Sole Meunière in France that transported her and began to change her life. She realized her fantasy, and it happened in Paris. Just being there, I think, may have inspired Meryl's performance and Stanley's, too.” Following two days of prep, the five-day span of Paris location filming took place with seemingly effortless clockwork efficiency. Numerous company moves midway through shooting days were accomplished so smoothly that as many as three or four locations per day could be filmed. 

There was little in the way of delays, and even the weather cooperated, which was lucky because all shots scheduled were exteriors, with no cover sets planned. Paris has kept so much of its character over the years that, for most of the locations, little or no set-dressing was required in order to reset the scene to the late 1940s and early 1950s.  Much of the filming was concentrated close to the Seine on the Left Bank, in the Fifth and Sixth arrondissements, and around the neighborhoods of St. Michel and St. Germain des Prés. 

Sites included the famous Shakespeare and Company bookstore, the Place Ste.-Geneviève, an outdoor café near the Place Maubert, and several bridges over the Seine. The central commercial street of the charming Ile St.-Louis was where Julia took her cooking students food shopping, and the park behind Notre Dame on the neighboring Ile de la Cité served for some of Stanley and Julia's strolls. 

A bit further afield, at the foot of Montmartre, was the art nouveau-era bakery wher

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