About an hour south of Lyon France is the quirky tourist attraction Le Palais Idéal. In 1879 Ferdinand Cheval, a local postman, started the construction of his “Ideal Palace” behind his house in the small commune of Hauterives. Thirty-three years later his imaginative whimsical creation was completed.
Conforming to no architectural rules, Cheval’s surreal palace has many themes and many styles. At each turn there is something different and unexpected. It brings smiles to the face of those who see it. Like the Watts Towers in Los Angeles, Le Palais Idéal is classed as Outsider or Naïve Art.
In 1969 Palais Idéal du Facteur Cheval was declared a cultural landmark and officially protected. (The Watts Towers have similarly been designated as a Nation Historic Monument.) Today Cheval’s eccentric hobby palace is open to the public. Visitors from France and around the world make a detour off of the autoroute to see Ferdinand Cheval’s backyard project.