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The postman who delivered a palace
May 21, 2011 8:13 AM   Subscribe

The story begins in 1879. Cheval, then 43 years old, had been working as a rural mail carrier in the southeast of France for 12 years. Because his daily routine involved walking about 20 miles (32km), mostly in solitude, he did a lot of daydreaming. One day (perhaps while his mind was elsewhere), he tripped over a small limestone rock. He picked up that stone and over the next 33 years went on to build his dream, Le Palais Idéal, an amazing fantasy palace.

Ferdinand Cheval, who went postal in a good way

Another photo album with pictures of Le Palais Ideal

Map | Hauterives, France

Videos: Le "Palais Idéal" du facteur Cheval, un rêve surréaliste en pierres ordinaires- Hauterives .avi | Le Palais Du Facteur Cheval | LE FACTEUR CHEVAL, SON PALAIS IDEAL | Le palais idéal du facteur Cheval - the Postman Cheval's Ideal Palace - La Drôme en vidéo | le palais ideal

Vintage postcards of Le Palais Idéal

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

Unusual travel destinations: Poorly educated with no knowledge of architecture let alone engineering, he gave birth to a surreal place of fantasy art.

The Postman's Palace

The postman who delivered a palace
posted by nickyskye (18 comments total) 42 users marked this as a favorite

 
Awesome, I have to go visit! It's between Lyon and Valence.

I got to visit Salvation Mountain a few years ago and meet its builder, Leonard Knight. It's more of an explicitly religious vision than Cheval's Palais, but intensely personal. What struck me most is how modest Leonard was. It's like he put all his ego into his construction.
posted by Nelson at 8:39 AM on May 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


See also The Coral Castle.
There should be a name for these kinds of monumental structures painstakingly constructed by a single man over a long period of time.
posted by Curious Artificer at 9:49 AM on May 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


He's quite famous in France, and his name is often mentionned as one considers a very complex and idiosyncratic work : "C'est le palais du facteur cheval !"
posted by nicolin at 10:04 AM on May 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Really want to visit Coral Castle one of these days.

Tucks "C'est le palais du facteur cheval !" in my memory pocket, to be used on the right occasion.

There should be a name for these kinds of monumental structures painstakingly constructed by a single man over a long period of time

Wikipedia term: It is regarded as an extraordinary example of naïve art architecture.
posted by nickyskye at 10:15 AM on May 21, 2011


Similar to Chateau LaRoche just outside of Cincinnati
posted by Mick at 10:47 AM on May 21, 2011


That's great. Reminds me of La Maison Picassiette.
posted by various at 10:54 AM on May 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wikipedia term: It is regarded as an extraordinary example of naïve art architecture.

That sounds so...deprecating, though. I feel like that term downplays these people's vision, however inexpertly that vision may at times be realized. Even the term "outsider art" sounds better to my ear. I get why we have trained architects, engineers, and contractors plan out most buildings and structures—it's usually safer, for one thing—but when it's art, I feel like respect should be paid.
posted by limeonaire at 10:59 AM on May 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also worth a look is Nek Chand's Rock Garden, in Chandigarh.
posted by walrus at 11:00 AM on May 21, 2011


MeFi term: magnificent obsession. It came into vouge on October 4th, 2001, 6 people used it for the first time that day, stated by grumblebee in a magnificent obsession FPP, and took off from there.
posted by stbalbach at 11:43 AM on May 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oooh, that's a good term! Thanks stbalbach.
posted by nickyskye at 12:33 PM on May 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Similar to Chateau LaRoche just outside of Cincinnati

Don't forget the Castle in Versailles Kentucky (now renamed CastlePost after its new owner).
posted by J.W. at 12:59 PM on May 21, 2011


Castle in Versailles Kentucky

List of castles in the United States. Dunno if there are any decent ones. People should build stone buildings like Cheval that are both tasteful and original. Influenced by the past but not imitations of it.
posted by stbalbach at 1:37 PM on May 21, 2011


the Place looks like giant Sand Castle. mainly the shade of colours.
posted by taxpayer at 1:51 PM on May 21, 2011


There should be a name for these kinds of monumental structures painstakingly constructed by a single man over a long period of time.
I've always been partial to Dementia Concretia.
posted by usonian at 2:24 PM on May 21, 2011


Somewhat related, if not hand-made by one guy over many years:

We can't go to the Taj Mahal, so the Taj Mahal must come to us -- seems to be filmmaker and hotelier Ahsanullah Moni's rationale for building a replica of the 17th century Mughal monument in his backyard [...] “Everyone dreams about seeing the Taj Mahal but very few Bangladeshis can make the trip because it's too expensive for them,” said Moni. “Shah Jahan built the Taj for the love of his wife. I built my Taj for the love of Shah Jahan.”
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:41 PM on May 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow, incredible! I wish I had known about this when I visited Provence--it would have been a neat day trip from Aix or Avignon.

Like various' link to La Maison Picassiette, this reminds me of Antoni Gaudi's work in Barcelona.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 5:07 PM on May 21, 2011


.He picked up that stone...

Unlike the rest of us, who simply toss them out of our way.
posted by BlueHorse at 7:17 PM on May 21, 2011


Yes! Dementia Concretia was the term I was thinking of! I knew I'd seen it before!
posted by Curious Artificer at 8:18 PM on May 21, 2011


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