I couldn’t resist going back to Château des Milandes once again. There’s something about it that keeps drawing me back. The building itself is very appealing and is a fine example of French Renaissance architecture with an abundance of Gothic features.
It’s rich in history and connected to French aristocracy but today, Château des Milandes is known as the home of the late Josephine Baker. The château celebrates her life, talent and contribution to France. So let’s go in…
Must-see places in Château des Milandes
It doesn’t take long to explore the château but I suggest you take your time and allow yourself at least a good couple of hours of walking, reading, listening and photographing. Speaking of which, they have a strictly “no photos inside the château” policy. Not even without using your flash, so make sure you obey that rule.
Here are the “must-sees” at Château des Milandes:
Milandes is my favourite château because of its size and the way it’s been preserved, and presented to the public. It feels like you walk into someone’s house rather than into a cold historic monument.
It feels that way because the current owners have restored it to the way it used to be during the occupancy of its late owner – Josephine Baker. I must admit that I didn’t know who she was until my first visit to Milandes but she was a formidable lady. An American-born entertainer who made France her home and chosen country of residence.
Her looks and talent quickly brought her fame and she became the symbol of the 1920s and the Jazz Age. She put her fame and influence to good use and she aided the French Resistance during World War II.
Her story is very moving and it’s told beautifully through the artefacts and the different exhibits in the château. It is inspiring and by the time you get to the kitchen, you may well be misty-eyed.
[Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on their website to read her story.]
The French Gardens and The Park
You must explore the French gardens and the park. They have been re-developed and I almost didn’t recognise them since my last visit. It’s a good walk and parts of it are quite steep but it is worth it. Make sure to wear suitable shoes and have plenty of water, especially if you visit in the summer.
The Birds of Prey
You can’t miss the birds of prey at Château des Milandes. They have 70 protected species of them on site. I am not a big fan of birds and the thought of them flying free puts me off seeing the demonstrations that they do.
However, I tag along in the end so that I can photograph them. They are tame and used to being photographed but I still wouldn’t dream approaching them even if there is a big camera between them and me.
You work up an appetite especially if you do the gardens and the park “properly”, so having The Brasserie on site is very handy indeed. This time I had coffee and water as it was too late for lunch and too early for dinner.
It’s nice to just sit down and relax. Look at your pictures and if you are not happy with any of them, you could go and take some more 🙂
Travel tips for visiting Château de Milandes in The Dordogne in France
Château des Milandes is relatively small and intimate compared to other French châteaux. That makes it easy to explore and it leaves you plenty of time to go back to parts of it should you need to. It’s only 16km south of Sarlat and you can stop on your way to or from there. If you arrive in the late afternoon, the chances are that there would be just a few other visitors, compared to earlier in the day, making your visit a much more pleasant experience.
I suggest you have a bottle of water when you watch The Birds of Prey demonstration and walk through the grounds as it can be quite hot, especially in the summer. Take advantage of the audio guide they give you at the entrance. It’s light and saves you having to join a tour.
Here’s some essential information to help you plan your visit:
Château des Milandes, 24250 CASTELNAUD-LA-CHAPELLE
Tel: +33 (0)5 53 59 31 21
The opening hours listed below may change, so please make sure you check the château’s website prior to your visit.
Peak season – 01/04 – 31/10
9:30am – 8:00pm
Off season – 01/11 – 30/03
10:00am – 6:00pm
* Last entry 1 hour before château closing.
** Please allow at least a couple of hours for your visit.
Adult – €11
Child – €7
Disabled – €8.50
Tours and guides
This was my second visit to Château des Milandes and I managed with the audio guide which was issued to me together with my admission ticket. It works really well and it allows you to take your time and explore at your own pace.
There are a couple of tours to choose from if you prefer to explore the chateau that way. Please check the website (link here) for more details.