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Monday, July 4, 2011

Ferdinand Cheval's "Le Palais Idéal", Hauterives, France

Ferdinand Chevals Le Palais Ideal
If ever there was a labor of love it must have been the construction of "The Ideal Palace". Ferdinand Cheval was a French postman or "facteur" who build "Le Palais Idéal" over the course of decades from 1879 to 1912. One day in 1879 while walking his post route he hit his foot on a stone. Not a significant event one would think but it actually changed his life completely. For whatever reason he was intrigued by the stone; it's shape and form. From that small stone grew the dream and passion that would ...


8 rue du palais, 26390 Hauterives, France

45°15'21.20"N 5°1'40.06"E

No Google Maps "Street View" Available - Not Included In Google Earth Tour

... eventually become "Le Palais Idéal". To quote Cheval himself:

"Whatever your age, whatever your wish to achieve, if you are courageous, persistent and hard-working, you are sure to succeed."

Cheval started to collect stones during his work; first carrying them in his pocket, then a basket and later still he took a wheelbarrow on his rounds. He created a pond in the yard decorated with stones he had collected; once done he followed it with a grotto and from there his imagination took flight and his 30 plus year journey began.

Le Palais Ideal Detail 4According to an inscription on one of the walls it took "more than 10,000 days or 93,000 hours over the period of 33 years" to finish "Le Palais Idéal".

The Ideal Palace Website describes Ferdinand Cheval as follows:

"Ferdinand Cheval aka Facteur Cheval (1836-1924) was a postman who built his dream : Le Palais Idéal. An amazing and imaginary castle. Stone by stone, he imposed this harsh discipline on himself to show that willpower could triumph over all manner of physical and mental difficulties, and also achieve a more perfect understanding of the nature of things and the nature itself."

Though not an architect or an artist that 33 year journey gave rise to one of the most remarkable and surreal pieces of art/architecture anywhere in the world. I am not entirely sure I would choose to spend thirty years of my life on such an endeavor but you do have to recognize the enormous commitment Cheval must have had to undertake and complete such a monumental task. Though probably not his motivation he certainly engraved his name on the tablet of history.

One interesting aside as you check out the pictures. There did not appear to be any way to get a Google Maps "streetview" of "Le Palais Ideal" but during our wandering around looking for one we did come across an interesting statue on a traffic island in the village that commemorates Cheval; there is a screenshot from Google Maps on the "Memorial" tab below. The island is located at a split in the road leaving Hauterives going east.

Ferdinand Chevals Le Palais Ideal, Hauterives, FranceClick For Image Source

Ferdinand Chevals Le Palais Ideal Exterior 3

Ferdinand Chevals Le Palais Ideal Exterior 1

Ferdinand Chevals Le Palais Ideal Exterior 2

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Ferdinand Chevals Le Palais Ideal Detail 1

Ferdinand Chevals Le Palais Ideal Detail 2

Ferdinand Chevals Le Palais Ideal Detail 3

Ferdinand Chevals Le Palais Ideal Detail 4

Ferdinand Chevals Le Palais Ideal Detail 5

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Ferdinand Cheval Traffic Island Memorial, France
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