Le palais ideal – what to do with a stone?

Once upon a time (precisely in the second half of the 19th century) in the middle of nowhere in south-east France lived a village postman. One day when he was distributing his letters he stumbled upon a stone. He took it in his hand and looked at it for a long while.

The postman put it in his pocket and remembered, that when he was a kid, he wanted to build a palace. He decided that this stone will be the founding stone of his palace.
For the next 40 years he was collecting stones and building a palace in his own garden. The neighbours considered him a madman and laughed at him. He however did not change his mind and followed his dream.

I have heard about this place many times and it was on my bucket list.


His garden transformed and his building grew bigger and bigger. He had no architectural knowledge and had to study all by himself. He got inspired by the postal stamps on the letters he delivered. They showed oriental palaces of India, Indonesia and other exotic places. He mixed these elements with the European art and aimed at creating a palace combining all the best of all the styles – an ideal palace.
He lived long enough to be able to finalise his humongous structure. When he grew old, he decided he wants to be buried in his palace. Unfortunately that was not possible – according to the law, you can only be buried in a cemetery and not in your own garden.
He therefore decided to build his own tomb in the local cemetery using the same techniques he learned while building the palace.

The Ideal Palace started to be known in the vicinity and people started to visit it. Its fame after some time even reached Paris and a delegation of the Ministry of Culture decided to inspect it. They were impressed and decided to declare it a national monument.

I have heard about this place many times and it was on my bucket list. Returning back from the summer holidays in Spain we decided to make a small detour and add it to our itinerary.
The detour proved to be not so small as the palace is quite far from any highway and we nearly missed the opening hours, but we were lucky enough and had 45 minutes to visit it.
The building is indeed unique. Gosia, who is an art historian, had quite mixed feelings, as the structure is extremely eclectic. The kids loved it and played hide and seek in its labyrinths.

So, if you are bored with the French gothic cathedrals and you do not see any difference between the Louis XIV and Louis XVI style and you want to see something different, odd and refreshing – this place is certainly for you.

And what do you think about this place? Is it worth a trip? Please comment below.

Sources/bibliography & further read

If you are inspired to see the palace built by the postman Cheval, the official site provides all the information about prices, opening times, do’s and dont’s.



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Michal got addicted to travelling at the age of seven months, when he visited his grandparents in Egypt. Since then he visited nearly one hundred countries on five continents. Passionate about history, culture, international relations and diplomacy. Speaks fluently eight languages, and understands six more. Loves to organise trips for his friends, family and everyone who is interested. Loved to pilot planes until he met the love of his life. Works for the project he believes in – the European Union. When not travelling, not working, not spending time with his family – you can find him in the gym.

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