CNN release film featuring Les Milandes
Josephine Baker and her time at Les Milandes has recently been the subject of a CNN film featuring fascinating archive footage and beautiful shots of the interiors and gardens at the Chateau des Milandes.
The Chateau is just a short walk from our French country cottages and luxury villa in the Dordogne at Les Milandes. The Chateau is where she raised her “Rainbow Tribe” and is now a testament to her, vibrantly bringing her to life through a procession of beautiful costumes and exhibits, art deco bathrooms, pictures and a chronological tour of her life. The Chateau’s gardens have also been extensively re-designed, and offer a tranquil and calm oasis in the heady days of summer. There is also a brasserie for a coffee or a long, lazy lunch after your adventures at one of the great Dordogne attractions. Bird of prey demonstrations are also offered at various times of the year/day.
The courtyard of our luxury French home Le Manoir, is the old village square at Les Milandes. The former restaurant is now our party and games room and the old hall – L’Ancienne Mairie – is now a three bedroom house available to let and has stunning views up to the Chateau, down to the Parc and across the valley.
Locally, Josephine, is considered a goddess and nationally and internationally she has an incredible following. Born in St Louis, Missouri in 1906, she first shot to fame on her arrival in Paris in 1925 on the stage of La Theatre du Champs Elysees in “la Revue Negre”. In 1926, she became an overnight sensation in “la Danse Sauvage” wearing only her “banana skirt”.
During the war, she not only performed for troops but also helped the resistance movement for which she was awarded the Legion d’Honeur. She continued to fight against racism in America and was not actually accepted in the US until 1973 when she performed in New York at the Carnegie Hall.
Josephine Baker buys Chateau des Milandes
She married four times despite receiving over a thousand marriage proposals (President Hollande was too young!) Her fourth husband, who she married in 1947 was Jo Bouillon who had his own orchestra and together they bought the Chateau des Milandes. They divorced in 1961 but during their time together they adopted twelve children forming a family that she referred to as “The Rainbow Tribe.” Her family lived happily at Les Milandes proving that “children of different ethnicities and religions could still be brothers.”
Unfortunately, she did tend to overspend and went through a difficult time as a result. Jo left her and she finally had to leave Milandes taking refuge with Princess Grace of Monaco before returning for a grand finale at the Bobino in Paris in 1975 to the best reviews of her life attended by Princess Grace, Sophia Loren, Lisa Minelli, Shirley Bassey, Diana Ross and Sir Mick Jagger! Days later, she slipped into a coma and died shortly after. Twenty thousand people lined the streets of Paris for her funeral and she was honoured with a twenty one gun salute, the first American woman buried in France with military honours.
Parc des Milandes was built by Josephine Baker
During her time at Milandes, she owned much of the village. The Chartreuse below the Manoir was a hotel, the old village square that is now our courtyard featured a restaurant and you can still see her and Jo’s initials in the paving outside. She built the Parc des Milandes at the bottom of the hill as a pleasure parc with an enormous pool and restaurant au bord de la riviere where she used to entertain.
A statue of Josephine Baker
Nowadays, Les Milandes is still a blissful place with the Chateau sitting majestically just above us.