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AttractionsLe Facteur Cheval (Le Palais Idéal)

Ferdinand Cheval, aka le Facteur Cheval was a French postman - facteur who spent 33 years building Le Palais Idéal in his backyard. In an area that was his vegetable garden. Cheval worked alone, except for his wheelbarrow who he called his 'fidèle compagne de peine' - faithful companion in difficulty. If it wasn't enough to spend 33 years of his life building his palace, Chavel then spent 8 years building the tomb were he is buried with his wife and daughter. Both of whom he outlived. Originally, Chavel wanted to be buried in his palace but that wasn't possible.

Cheval came from a farming family and was born in the Drôme department. He had little formal education and thanks to a moral certificate from his mayor was able to get a job as a mailman in 1867. After two years working in different villages, Chavel was transferred to Hauterives not far from where he was born and bought a home. In Hauterives has was responsible for the 'tournée de Tersanne' - Tersanne route, an itinerary of 33 kilometers - 20 miles that he did on foot daily. It was during his daily route that Cheval would find many of the stones used to build Le Palais Idéal.

The job of rural postman was a step-up for Chavel who before was a baker and farmer, but nevertheless not easy work. At the time postmen were paid by the number of kilometers walked and work just about everyday. It was during one of his daily deliveries, that Chavel found a stone that inspired him to build his palace. This stone can be seen on the second level of Le Palais Idéal. In all it took Chavel 10,000 days to build when finished in 1912.

On the grounds of Le Palais Idéal is a small museum with rotating exhibitions, a gift shop and gardens. Also on the grounds is the home where Cheval lived, not open to the public.

Le Palais Idéal is in the village of Hauterives. It is open daily except for Christmas, New Year's Day and January 15th-31th. Doors open at 9:30am and close 4:30-7pm depending on the time of year. Hauterives is about 30 minutes from Tain l'Hermitage and the A7 Autoroute.

Related Link:
Palais Idéal du Facteur Cheval (official site)

Signs in Hauterives for Le Palais Idéal and Ferdinand Cheval's tomb.

Galaure River not far from Le Palais Idéal.

Bust of Ferdinand Cheval in Hauterives.

Le Palais Idéal is on this street.

Only known drawing made by Ferdinand Cheval of Le Palais Idéal.

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