Palais Ideal Matt 24 Apr 2006

11 comments Latest by Rugby Fan Steve

It all started one day in 1879 when a postal worker in Hauterives, France tripped over a rock. 34 years/9,000 days/65,000 hours later he had built Palais Ideal (photos), a bizarre four-sided castle made from concrete, lime, and wire that combines architectural styles from various time periods and countries.

Cheval stopped to examine what he called his “stumbling block.” He found its shape so bizarre that he decided to take it home. The next day he returned to this same spot and found more beautiful stones which he gathered up enthusiastically and carried off. This event he took as a divine sign. “Since Nature provided me with sculptures I shall become an architect and a mason (besides who isn’t a bit of a mason?). While tramping I thought of Napoleon who said the word ‘impossible’ does not or should not exist. Since then I agree with him. The word impossible no longer exists.” With these rocks of varied and fantastic shape Cheval would create his “fairy-like palace beyond imagination,” the Palais Ideal.

palais ideal

11 comments so far (Jump to latest)

Brad Garland 24 Apr 06

I don’t care how beautiful its supposed to be, that thing is UGGGGG-LY! :)

Pierre 25 Apr 06

Not so unrelated in its spirit: the Nek Chand Rock Garden in Chandigarh, India.

Jencinar 25 Apr 06

There’s a very similar story in Spain, Justo Gallego has built his own Cathedral from debris

Tom Greenhaw 25 Apr 06

Cool, the architectural equivalent of extreme programming.

Christopher J 25 Apr 06

This also reminds me of the Orange Show in Houston … very bizarre.

techbee 25 Apr 06

My family home is located a few kilometers away from the “Ideal Palace” of the postman Cheval (meaning “Horse” in French). He collected pebbles during his postman rounds. His inspiration came from the exotic postcards from the French former colonies he looked at in the mail (North Africa, South East Asia). His family labelled him as crazy and at some point tried to put him away in an asylum. But he outlived them all and found time to build a smaller Ideal-Palace for this grave in the village cemetery. Then he died, well in his 80ies. His palace is now the main source of revenue for his little town. But in the fifties, it was ignored, decaying and in bad need of restauration. Andr´┐Ż Malraux, the writer and de Gaulle’s Minister of Culture, with Pablo Picasso the painter, paid a visit to the Ideal Palace of Postman Cheval and decided that he was one major artist of primal-naif-Folk Art. The Palace was then protected by the French State as a monument and restaured. We go there often. He wrote poems and philosophical quotes on the walls. It’s a labor of love, obviously. Sorry for the lecture. Postman Cheval is just one of my childhood’s role model. You can do it…

weisheng 25 Apr 06

The architecture looks very similar to Hindi temples. I must say the Palais Ideal really is quite ugly…

archie 25 Jun 06

Yes, very ornate like Hindu, and other religions, which it represents, one pebble at a time. An inspiration to mankind that all can be the faithful pilot of a fine stone temple.
Ugly architecture are prisons, gulags, bunkers, missile silos and especially gypsum board flats with high landlord rents.