The American singer raised her twelve children and armed herself for the Resistance at the Château des Milandes, a place of all her hopes transformed into a place of memory.

In this Perigord castle, Josà © phine Baker has hidden weapons for the Resistance, received the Legion of Honor and raised a “rainbow tribe” of twelve adopted children all over the world. “This is where my mother spent the longest part of her life, almost 30 years,” Brian Bouillon-Baker told AFP in front of this late 15th century castle. ¨cle, overlooking the Dordogne, in Castelnaud-la-Chapelle. More than in the United States, which saw him born, than in Paris, his lifelong “love”, and Monaco, where Princess Grace welcomed him.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the former star of the Roaring Twenties brought a funny family to the Milandes, twelve children of different religions and cultures adopted at a very young age. with her fourth and last husband, the conductor Jo Bouillon, married in the chapel of the castle in 1947. “She raised them with the idea that he there is only one race, the human race “, in the direct line of the fight of her life against racism, nourished by her childhood as a black American, sums up the owner of the place, Angà © lique de Labarre, who transformed the large building of blond stones and flat tiles into the Josà © phine Baker museum.

“Mom succeeded in federating these 12 small entities which were not destined to live together in a united family, despite our differences”, underlines the eldest of the Akio Bouillon tribe, 70 years old, adopted in Japan in 1954. With Brian, 65 years old, adopted in Algeria, they describe a “protective”, “caring” mother e and closed ”. “She didn’t want us to climb magnolias, chase peacocks or play with bows and arrows,” Brian breathes, pointing to the long branches of the majestic trees. “Even the bicycle, it was dangerous”.

A “mother hen” who, during World War II, had the guts to cross the desert in a jeep with the Free French Forces, between Morocco and Libya, or to pass secret messages to destination allied counter-espionage. An “Italian mamma” also remembers Brian as she walks through the kitchen of the chateau. “Every Sunday evening, she would prepare a large pot of spaghetti bolognese. It was the only day she was cooking ”.

In this corner of Perigord, the rainbow tribe was “a curiosity”, confides Brian, author of Josà © phine Baker the universal (Editions du Rocher). “A large, multi-ethnic family living in a castle, we quickly realized that this was special. But at school, we melted into the crowd, ”says Akio. “When their mother came back from the trip, the children had gadgets, gifts, things that we weren’t used to seeing here,” recalls the current mayor of Castelnaud Daniel Dejean, who frequented the benches of the communal with certain small Bouillon-Baker. The tribe was not the only local attraction because Josà © phine and Jo, before their separation, closed around the castle a kind of leisure complex before the hour.

A swimming pool (in J, like Josà © phine and Jo), a hotel, a restaurant, a mini-golf course, a pet shop, a farm of 300 hectares, lists Mme de Labarre. Up to 120 people worked there, she said. “Thanks to her, in this village of 150 inhabitants, there was a garden with bears, monkeys, plants … a performance hall that still exists and has seen Bécaud, Brialy pass by. . and even a gas station! ”, remembers Germinal Peiro, president of the Departmental Council from the neighboring village, Beynac.

“After the war, Josà © phine helped to make Perigord known for tourism, like Lascaux. People came from all over France to see her “, continues Mr. Peiro, referring to a woman who” gave off something extraordinary “. “Kids, we were so impressed when we saw her. He was a world star ”.

But the “village of the world” wanted by this extraordinary woman did not live. “Some people abused her, cheated on the bills… Everyone here knows that. She was an artist, not a manager ”, assures Germinal Peiro. According to Mme de Labarre, she was paying the water and electricity bills for almost the entire village, without knowing it.

In 1964, Brigitte Bardot made a television call and signed a big check that saved the Milandes. But four years later, the buildings were auctioned off and the artist expelled, at 62. “The worst time of his life,” says Brian. Grace of Monaco will offer him hospitality. “She may have seen too big”, slips Angélique de Labarre, now keeper of memories.

the 11/26/2021 at 7:28 AM

Happy that the youngest children discover who was Josà © phine BAKER, great artist, true resistance, great heart. You must visit the Milandes!

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