In 1879 a postman by the name of Ferdinand Cheval stepped on a small pebble, and after picking it up and examining it, he got an idea. He would spend the next 30+ years collecting pebbles of various shapes and sizes on his 18-mile-long route. After work he would mix together lime and concrete to build the Palais Idéal.

“I said to myself: since Nature is willing to do the sculpture, I will do the masonry and the architecture”

Located in Hauterives, the palace is a popular tourist destination and also serves as inspiration for artists. An example of “naïve art architecture”, . He spent 22 years building the outer walls, using stones he gathered in his pockets. Eventually he carried a basket and finally a wheelbarrow to collect the necessary stones to complete the project.

Ferdinand is an inspiration not just to artists, but anyone who rides a wave of inspiration to the finish. His efforts prove that with time, passion, and effort, you can achieve almost anything.

Photographs by EMMANUEL GEORGES and CLAUDE TRAVELS

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