French Postman Spends 33 Years Building A Palace From Pebbles He Collected Along His 18-Mile Mail Route


Palais Ideal is the coolest palace on the planet, simply because it was built in such a unique fashion. Ferdinand Cheval spent 33 years building this breathtaking palace, complete with pillars, towers, a lavish grotto, buttresses and more.

The incredible part is that the entire highly detailed palace is made from pebbles Cheval gathered each day along his 18-mile post route.

Cheval’s interest with collecting pebbles sparked after he tripped over an unusually shaped rock one day. The rock sparked the idea to create an elaborate cathedral, the same one he had seen in his dreams.

The widower originally started collecting pebbles along his postman route as a hobby, but before long he was bringing a wheelbarrow with him each day to bring back more and more pebbles. He used all of these oddly, misshaped rocks, cemented them together and in a little over 3 decades erected an entire palace.

Today, the completed palace is located in its original location of Hauterives, a town in southeastern France.


Photo Credit: Thierry Ollivier 

Cheval’s journal writings reveal some of his inner thoughts, “I wanted to know the cause. In a dream I had built a palace, a castle or caves. I told no one about it for fear of being ridiculed and I felt ridiculous myself. I said to myself: since Nature is willing to do the sculpture, I will do the masonry and the architecture.”

Each day after work Cheval hauled all of his pebble collections to the site in Hauterives where the ambitious project was completed. He worked through the night on it, by the light of oil lamps.

This took a toll on his family life, as he entrusted the care of his son to his Godparents in order to focus on completing his masterpiece made of pebbles.


Photo Credit: Thierry Ollivier

Cheval used lime, mortar and cement to bind together the stones that line the outer walls. The walls alone took a solid 22-years to complete, and measure 79 feet long, and 33 feet high.


Photo Credit Emmanuel Georges

The talented architect sought inspiration from the postcards he delivered, as well as teachings from Christianity and Hinduism. As a result he created an array of sculptures depicting exotic animals and mythical creatures.


Photo Credit: Daderot

Cheval died in 1924; one year after his palace was completed. Cheval’s one request when he died was to be buried at the palace. Unfortunately, this was not permitted and the talented architect was buried at a local cemetery, in a mausoleum he constructed himself.


Photo Credit: Marie Cardon

In 1969, the Minister of Culture declared the Palais as a cultural landmark, and as such it is officially protected.


Photo Credit: Thierry Ollivier


Photo Credit: Emmanuel Georges


Photo Credit: Thierry Ollivier


Photo Credit: Wim Constant


Photo Credit: Emmanuel Georges

There is so much to take in looking at this exquisite masterpiece, yet perhaps the most inspirational and touching portion is a carved inscription by Cheval that reads, “The dream of one man.”

Photo Credit: facteurcheval.comFacebook