Visit Chateau Milandes
- Date of construction: 15th century
- Location: Dordogne, Aquitaine
Chateau Milandes was originally constructed in 1489 by the Lord of Castelnaud to provide Lady Castelnaud with more homely surroundings than the castle at Castelnaud where they then lived. They lived at the castle until 1535, and after that continued to visit often.
Avoiding the turmoil and wars that faced so many castles in the region, Les Milandes had a peaceful and uneventful life for the centuries that followed, although eventually abandoned following the Revolution.
Around 1870 Chateau Milandes was bought, restored, and expanded by a rich businessman resulting in the castle that we can see today. This work (largely carried out during the first eight years of the 20th century) included much effort to make the castle more attractive and included most of the towers and arcades that we see. There was also a practical function in some of the work - for example the tower was increased in height and used to hold water supplies for the castle.
It was also during this work that the gardens were laid out, although based on the gardens that had stood here in the 15th century.
The story of Milandes Castle continued eventfully into the middle of the 20th century. A renowned American cabaret entertainer, Josephine Baker, bought the castle in 1947 and redecorated much of the interior - so there are some lovely art deco bathrooms and art deco examples to see, for example. There are also photos explaining the life of Josephine Baker.
During the Second World War Josephine Baker had became something of a hero due to her work with the resistance (she was awarded the Legion of Honour), and after the war her good works continued as she adopted needy children from all corners of the world.
Financial problems eventually forced Josephine Baker out of Chateau Milandes in 1968, but the castle stands in tribute to her, her extraordinary life story, and to the current owners who are continuing to maintain and restore the chateau.
The castle is also known for the falconry exhibitions that are held there.