Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Le Palais Ideal du Facteur Cheval

One day in April 1879, on returning from his daily postal round, Ferdinand Cheval tripped on a stone that looked so strange that he took it home with him. The next day he returned to the same spot & found more beautiful stones which he gathered & carried off. These stones reminded him of his dream about a magical palace beyond the bounds of imagination.

So this postman of Hauterives, a landscape rich in fossils & porous limestone, started his epic journey to build the palace of his dreams. He devoted 33 years of his life to modelling, night after night, this monument to obstination.
At first he carried the stones in his pants pocket. When his wife got tired of mending his trousers, he had to turn to other means & finally ended up with a wheel barrow. Cheval would deliver the mail, marking the stones for later pick up. After his rounds, he would return with his wheelbarrow to collect the stones for his garden which today is known as the Palais Ideal.

This architectural wonder put the small town of Hauterives on the tourist map. When word of his project spread, everybody wanted to see what this crazy postman was doing. Accusations of his madness soon shift to admiration, drawing atention from artists.

With no professional training, Cheval built an eccentric palace evoking a mix of Egyptian, Roman, Aztec & Siamese styles of architecture. He was also a bit of a poet, his numerous sayings are chiselled all over the fascade & interior.

Le Palais Ideal became the perfect illustration of naive arhitecture & was classified as a historical monument in 1969. It is considered as world reference for Outsider Art.
The site is just under 2 hours drive from us, somewhere between Lyon & Valence. It was raining & cloudy but we managed to be totally captivated by this strange monument. You really have to see it to believe it & to appreciate the workmanship of this one man with his eye for detail.

Le Palais Ideal
26390 Hauterives
04 75 68 81 19


Lilian said...

That is freakin' amazing! He built this with pebbles/stones by himself? Surely this must be listed as one of the 100 or 1000 places to see before one dies!

meng said...

looks indian leh???

eunice said...

One person did that all by himself? Amazing!!!

petite fleur said...

Just the idea of this one guy's perserverance is enough to make this very awesome.

Meng - It didn't seem Indian to me when I was there but now looking at some of the pictures & from some angles, you could say that but it was all from his imagination.