Ferdinand Cheval was born in 1836, in Charmes, a small village at the north of France. From a poor peasant family, he spent a very short time in school and quickly began working, first as a baker, then the majority of his life as a rural postman. He was considered the «town fool», and his mental health got deeply affected due to the the heartbreaking deaths of his first wife Rosalie, his son Victorin, and years later his daughter Alice.
Because of this, his hometown never trusted him when he announced he was going to build one of the most beautiful palaces of the world, by himself.
It all began in 1879, when an incredible building appeared in his dreams. When he woke up, he drew it, but almost 15 years later while he was working as a postman, he encountered an oddly shaped rock, which he interpreted as his dream manifesting in real live and a sign that he had to build the castle.
«My foot had stumbled against a stone which almost made me fall: I wanted to know what it was. It was a stumbling block of such an unusual shape that I put in my pocket to admire it at my leisure.
The next day I went back to the same place and found others that were even more beautiful. I thought: since nature wants to do the sculpture, I’ll do the masonry and the architecture»
Since that moment, Cheval, with no architectural knowledge whatsoever, spent the next 33 years of his life building the marvellous «Palais idéal», or Ideal Palace in his backyard. This breathtaking building is a mix of different architectural styles and materials, such as weird rocks, fossils, sands, concretes… filled with intricate engravings and incredible sculptures that he found or made himself.
Unique in the world, the Ideal Palace has inspired artists for more than a century. Independent from any artistic trend, built with no architectural rules, the Ideal Palace has been admired by the Surrealists and is considered one of the most astonishing buildings in the world.
«If there is someone more stubborn than me, start working»