You know what they say, it’s not about the destination; it’s about the journey. One mailman’s simple journey delivering mail turned out to be something quite remarkable.
Meet Ferdinand Cheval — the imaginative French postman
Le Palais idéal (The Ideal Palace) is what he spent 33 years building in Hauterives
During any regular 18-mile route, Chavel would pick up a pebble and add it to his magnificent palace
He tripped on a stone. Lo and behold, he had a new idea
“My foot tripped on a stone that almost made me fall,” Cheval said. “I wanted to know what it was… It was a stone of such a strange shape that I put it in my pocket to admire it at my ease.”
This is the bizarre shaped stone that Chevel tripped on. This would be the stone that inspired him to build Le Palais idéal
“The next day, I went back to the same place. I found more stones, even more beautiful, I gathered them together on the spot and was overcome with delight…” he said.
He first gathered pebbles placing them in his pocket, then a basket, and finally a wheelbarrow
“I said to myself: since Nature is willing to do the sculpture, I will do the masonry and the architecture,” recalled the determined mailman.
What inspired his design? All of the post cards he delivered whose images ranged from exotic animals to Hindu temples
“In a dream I had built a palace, a castle or caves, I cannot express it well…” explained Cheval. “I told no one about it for fear of being ridiculed and I felt ridiculous myself.”
It took 22 years for Cheval to complete the outer walls, binding the stones together with lime, mortar, and cement
The interior took Chevel 11 years
He even worked into the night only accompanied by an oil lamp to fulfill his vision
Chevel’s Le Palais idéal was finally completed in 1924 (when Cheval was in his 70s) and continues to be a tourist attraction to this day
Here is a quick tour of Le Palais idéal:
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