What a wonderful week!

Our friend of many years, (about thirty five); came for her first visit to the Perigord Noir last week and what a wonderful time we had, catching up on the latest news from England and visiting some of the attractions of the area. There is never enough time and we were sorry to see her go last Saturday, however we were already planning her next trip while we waited for her flight at Bergerac airport, which will include vineyards and horse riding, wonderful.

I just had to take her to see the home of Josephine Baker, Château des Milandes and its park. When we were last at Milandes last May with my sister, part of the park was being transformed, so I was particularly pleased that it was now open to the public and we could look around.

In the 1900’s Charles Claverie had the entire park laid out by Jules Vacherot who was the landscape architect in Chief of Paris at that time. Through Jules Vacherot guidelines the park was then set out into a large grid with lawns, terraces, balustrades and sculptures to create and enhance the park.

Since 2003, a succession of works have been completed such as boxwood hedges surrounding the terraces and flower garden at the front of the Château.

In the spring of this year work was started on the “Renaissance” of the Château and the park. The restoration of Jules Vacherot park now blends the Renaissance Period, with Art Nouveau and the Modernism periods together.


Château des Milandes dscn1811One fascinating thing that I had missed on previous visits to Milandes was the bell at the front of the Château. Unsure what it could be used for I imagined sitting in the garden and ringing the bell to summon tea or perhaps is was a fire bell?

Château des Milandes dscn1807How gorgeous is this? It certainly has the Wow factor.

Château des Milandes dscn1802Cascading water features and the infinity pool.

Château des Milandes dscn1803This fountain is to be found on the right of the new garden with excellent seating area to relax for a few moments shaded from the sun.

Château des Milandes dscn1799I just had to take another picture of the gargoyle

Château des Milandes dscn1791This is Monsieur Steene the Chief Falconer at Milandes with one of the protected birds of prey that he presents several times a day until the end of October. I love the moustache on this little bird.

The falconers look after about seventy birds of prey at Milandes and their shows are always a treat to see.

Château des MilandesThis is a new bird which has been added to the collection of birds of prey. We do not recognise the bird, if anyone can tell me please I would be very grateful. It hopped and ran alongside the falconer and only flew when it could not keep up.

Château des Milandes

A visit by my wonderful sister is always a treat after a thirty year separation; the more we see each other the more we find out that we have a vast amount in common.  One of which is our love of gorgeous Château’s, so we had to take her to see Château des Milanders.  I fell in love with Milanders from our first visit years ago and it never looses its charm.  It was called “Sleeping Beauty Castle” in 1937 when Josephine Baker first looked at the Château, so it comes at no surprise that she rented and then purchased the Château in 1947.

A visit to the Château is like a journey through the genius of Josephine Baker, who lived with her husband, Joe Bouillon and their twelve children, adopted from all over the world. Through the fourteen fully furnished rooms you can see the famous “banana belt” and the magnificent costumes of Josephine’s stage performances.  Not forgetting the very “diva” bathrooms that were designed just for her, one of which has gold leaf around the ceiling.

What is not commonly known is that Josephine worked extensively in the French Resistance and she was awarded various medals, one of which was the Legion of Honour.  She was a passionate campaigner for human rights walking along side Martin Luther King in his various marchers in the USA.

DSCN1303My sister and I with Château Milandes in the background, we were not saying cheese to the camera, but saying “this is our home” – well maybe if we win the lottery, who knows.


One of the highlight’s of a visit is the birds of pray demonstrations held in the garden at the rear of the Château.

DSCN1298A magnificent falcon which flew around our heads several times before he got his treat, wonderful.


DSCN1282The Eagle Owl considering my camera


DSCN1304Here is my sister admiring the statue of Josephine Baker giving a hug to one of her children.  The statue was unveiled in 2006 for the centenary of the birth of Josephine.  It is to be found in front of the bus shelter that Josephine had built for the children to shelter while they waited for the school bus to arrive.


Château des MilandesIn the bus shelter are pictures of Josephine and her husband with their children.


DSCN1306The letters are from famous people to Josephine, one of whom was Charles de Gaul.



Events: – Daglan this Saturday and Sunday for the Antique Fair.



Château des Milandes, part two

One of the highlights of Milandes is the Raptors Demonstration, which is found to the rear of the Château most afternoons from April until November and mornings too in mid summer, see the website for opening times.

We first watched the demonstration on our first visit to the Perigord in 2009 it was a cold and damp day in the autumn, but the demonstration was superb. This time it was a gorgeous sunny day with not a cloud in the sky, so we sat outside and looked up at the Château while we waited for the demonstration to begin.

The rear of Milandes showing the seating area.

The rear of Milandes showing the seating area.

I love gargoyles and these two are a superb example, as they tower over the many cages below them. Some of the large cages set into the walls house raptors.

I love gargoyles

I love gargoyles

The Eagle Owl in flight, this was a year old female which weighed three kg and has a wing span of 1.80m. It comes to get a reward of chicken after each flight.

The Eagle Owl takes flight

The Eagle Owl takes flight

Spotted Eagle Owl, it is one of the smallest birds at Milandes. Its wingspan is about 1.40 metres and her weight is about 750 grams and she is a little cutie.

Spotted Eagle Owl

Spotted Eagle Owl

There are also American Eagles, Falcons, Kestrels and Harris Hawks to name but a few of the birds of pray. Which are housed in cages in the park area of Milandes.

Needless to say it was a superb demonstration; the highlight for me was when the Eagle owl flew onto my arm, it was heavy, but fortunately for me so well behaved.

The park area

The park area

You can visit the official website at Château des Milandes

Chateau Des Milandes, part one

This is by far one of my favourite Chateaus in the Perigord Noir, and because of this we did take quite a few photographs which I have divided into two sections-part one and part two. The first section relates to the house and owners of the Chateau and the second section to the raptors of Milandes.

This Renaissance beauty was built by Francois de Caumont for his bride, Claude de Cardaillac after she refused to live in “a drafty Castle”, which was Castlenaud. They decorated it in frescoes and sculptures which over the centuries have sadly disappeared.

Josephine Baker, Chateau Des Milandes

Josephine Baker, Chateau Des Milandes

In the 1930’s, while on holiday in the Perigord Josephine Baker spotted the dilapidated Milandes and fell deeply in love with the Chateau. Josephine Baker was a dancer in Paris, who danced her own version of the Charleston in really nothing more than small skirt of upturned bananas! The skirt you can see on display in the Chateau. Of all of the black Americans who came to France to escape racism she was the most successful. She purchased her dream castle and 250 hectares of land and used it during the Second World War to hide people wanted by the Nazis, earning her a medal for her work in the Resistance in the 1940’s. After spending millions of the restoration work of Milandes, she adopted thirteen children of every race and culture, her “Rainbow Tribe”. Which she hoped to show everyone that people can get alone no matter what their race or culture.

Chateau Des Milandes

Chateau Des Milandes

She fell so deeply in debt in the 1960’s that she was forced to sell her gorgeous home and went to live in Monaco under the patronage of Princess Grace. One of the saddest pictures I have ever seen is hanging in the kitchen it is of Josephine sitting on the steps of Milandes with her dog and a few carrier bags when she was refused entry to Milandes after it had been sold at auction for a fraction of the true value. (Link)

Unfortunately you can not take pictures inside Milandes, but I shall list just a few of the things that you see on the walk around the interior of the Chateau. Besides the magnificent stone work you see the displays of Josephine’s life, her costumes, medals, the decorated bedrooms and very diva bathrooms.

gardens in full bloom,

gardens in full bloom,

if you walk between the chapel and the Chateau down a small slope you come to the café which sells excellent coffee, cakes, lunches etc.

It was Josephine Baker’s 100th Birthday this year and The de Labarne family who own the Chateau have supported two projects entitled “Operation Josephine” the first project is a statue to her as a permanent reminder of her devotion to motherhood and the other project is “Maisha Africa, which involves plans to create a village for the orphaned and widowed mothers of Rwanda.

This bronze statue is in a clearing across the street from Parc Josephine Baker, at the foot of the hill on which stands Milandes.

bronze statue to Josephine Baker

bronze statue to Josephine Baker

You can see interior photographs at the official Chateau des Milandes website

Events:- Brocante and vintage car rally in Sarlat on the 30th November.
Christmas market in Sarlat starts in the first week of December with a concert on the 14th December with traditional songs.