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Discover Palais Idéal du Facteur Cheval a Postman’s Dream

By Laura:

Have you ever looked at travel lists on the internet? Top 10 must-see places, top 100 sites to see in your life, most extraordinary places in the world?

Well, there is one that I visited, twice!

It is the ‘Palais Idéal du Facteur Cheval,’ located in Hauterives in the Drome area in the South of France.

Palais Idéal du Facteur Cheval memoiresdrome2

Facteur Cheval was a postman. He actually never left his town and never went on holiday. But he did create a palace, in his backyard, inspired by travels around the world! The result is absolutely amazing, as well as his story. Facteur Cheval was in fact inspired by other people that travelled and learned about the entire world by the postcards and magazines he delivered to people’s mailboxes. A Swiss Chalet, an Indian Palace. He saw all the images and was able to re-create them in his backyard with the stones he picked up during his daily post round in the area.

Palais Idéal du Facteur Cheval e_georges-3279

Continue reading here for the original Let’s Explore article and photos of this incredible site that welcomes over 150,000 people a year.

A Postman’s Ideal Palace

He delivered the mail with images (magazines and postcards) from around the world but never travelled. Ferdinand (Facteur) Cheval was a postman in Hauterives a village in a remote corner of the Drôme in France’s Rhône Alpes department. Over a 33-year period, he constructed a dream world, a place only dreams could be made of – the Ideal Palace. His work considered by many as a masterpiece of Naïve Art and the site was classified as a historical monument in 1969 by André Malraux the French Minister for Cultural Affairs at the time.

Palais Idéal du Facteur Cheval e_georges 2342

Born in 1836 in the hamlet of Charmes, Ferdinand Cheval began life in a rural environment. His family was poor and his formal education limited, but his imagination endless. In his notes and letters, he credited stumbling over a rock one day on his regular postal delivery route and was the spark to create the Palais Idéal.

Palais Idéal du Facteur Cheval e_georges-9898

He worked with his hands, collected stones in a wheelbarrow and built a masonry site in his garden that is impossible to classify. The result is a work of fantasy, a folly that looks like a collaborative effort by Gaudi, Dali and Walt Disney. Read more about the postman and his creation.

Palais Idéal du Facteur Cheval apercu 4

Cheval completed the Palais Idéal in 1912. However, knowing that he could not be buried there he built – the tomb of silence and endless rest – in the nearby cemetery. He died in 1924.

Palais Idéal du Facteur Cheval Visitor Information

The site is now owned and operated by the village of Hauterives. Located north of Valence and south of Lyon is a fantasy world that makes for a fun family road trip.

Palais Idéal du Facteur Cheval apercu 1

Palais Idéal du Facteur Cheval
8, rue du Palais
26390 Hauterives, Drôme
Tel: +33 (0)4 75 68 81 19

Open all year except Christmas day (25/12), New Year’s Eve (31/12) and the last two weeks of January from the 15th to the 31st inclusive.

For music fans: there is also an annual outdoor concert series at Palais Idéal held in early summer.

Palais Idéal du Facteur Cheval e_georges-1158

For movie fans: “L’Incroyable Histoire du Facteur Cheval” (Postman Cheval) is a biographical movie on the site and this man’s vision to be released in 2019.

Palais Idéal du Facteur Cheval Fechner Films 2017 - 2

Photo credits: images provided by and published with the permission of Palais Idéal du Facteur Cheval.

Photos #1-2 Copyright Coll Palais Idéal DR/Mémoires de la Drôme
Photos #3-8 Copyright Coll Palais Idéal Emmanuel Georges
Photo #9 Copyright Fechner Films 2017

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Laura’s family is multicultural. She is Dutch, and lives in Switzerland, with her French-Swiss husband and two (2) boys. The family travels for pleasure (and leisure) discovering new places, exploring different cultures and enjoying the people that they meet. Laura says, “I am curious, and I love the fact that travelling always triggers the curiosity of children.”

Let’s Explore the World with our Family is Laura’s blog about visiting new places and diverse scenery that sparks the seeds of curiosity and questions in both their children and themselves.

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