In 1879 on returning home a French mailman Ferdinand Cheval stumbled over a stone. That night, the man had a dream about a mansion. Soon after that he quit his job and started building his dream palace. The process lasted 34 years and resulted in an airy palace in the middle of the field.

Ferdinand Cheval. Source:

Cheval had no architectural background. His dismissal and subsequent attempts at the mansion’s construction quite expectedly were made the laughingstock of the community. As the years passed, the continuous stream of criticism gradually turned into admiration. The former mailman worked tirelessly to collect stones and make a real work of art out of them.

Le Palais idéal, 1890. Source:

The first tourists began to attend the palace. Cheval's architecture bore little resemblance to the weak efforts of a novice.


While building the mansion, the self-taught architect mixed different styles and even eras, drawing inspiration from Chinese, Algerian, and Northern European cultures to create a fantastic and completely original palace.



Cheval completed his Palais idéal with queer statues of bears, ostriches, and elephants. These animals, by the way, he also only saw in his dreams.


Cheval's Palais idéal is included in the French cultural heritage list. It still attracts hundreds of tourists every year.


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