Sunday, February 14, 2010

Hauterives, the Ideal Palace

The day before, Harper with 100 painted around her eyes for 100s day at her school.
It was the 100th day of school. They had a Valentines Day party
at which they made pasta necklaces and ate candy.

Leaving our apartment for Hauterives, I notice, for the first time,
this sign of shoes posted at the bottom of a wall across the street:

Here is that magical tree again, this time with snow and a little bit of fence:

Snow covered Sumac next door to the Ideal Palais:

We went back to Hauterives yesterday to finally see Le Palais Ideal du Facteur Cheval, the Ideal Palace by the Postman Ferdinand Cheval. There was much more snow in Hauterives than in Lyon which made for a dramatic drive and a brisk viewing of this marvel. The palace is 26m long, 14m wide and 10 m high. It was made with 3,500 bags of chalk, 1,000 square metres of masonry and countless stones collected by the postman while he delivered the mail. He worked on it for 33 years - starting in 1879 and finishing in 1912. He dies in 1924 at the age of 88. In 1969 the palace is classified as a historical monument by Andre Malraux, who considers it the only example of architecture in the naive style. Between 1983 and 1993 the palace and gardens are restored and the town of Hauterives purchases the monument in 1994. Thousands come each year to visit it. In the gift shop, which has been expanded since our last visit 10 years ago, you can find postcards, posters, videos and the usual tourist items, but also books comparing him to Gaudi and when you look at the work of both of them, it is uncanny. It is quite remarkable that a postman in rural France singlehandedly constructed a palace that looks like something made by an accomplished Spanish architect!

There are quotes by Cheval throughout the palace,
inscribed in the surfaces. Some of them are:
10 thousand days
93 thousand hours
33 years of struggle
Shall those more obstinate than I get to work"

One of my favourite quotes:
"I am the faithful companion
of the intelligent worker
who looks for his little continent
each day within his own countryside."

The Hindou Temple. There is also a White House and a Swiss Chalet.

"This monument is the work of a countryman.
Guarded by the three giants, have I shown
the epic story of the humble people
who furrow the ground."

"To the brotherhood of man."

"For good men, all people are brothers."

"Our motto is to love everyone."

Guthrie and Harper LOVED the palace and because of Harper's repeated plea for me to ask the people who work there why we couldn't go up the stairs that were taped off, I DID ask and they let us go up!

Guthrie on the roof -

This is a view of the rooftop through a plastic curtain:

A roadside ruin from David's car window:

1 comment:

  1. That shoe sign is a sign of La Mavor. It means she is thinking of you, whilst wearing high heels. For sure.

    Crazy to think of us at the Palais ten years ago. No children, and now there are three new humans between us.