Palais Ideal, Drome: tourism & sightseeing

Photo of Palais Ideal (Rhone-Alpes region)

Visit Palais Ideal (Rhone-Alpes, France)

The village of Hauterives is situated in the Rhone-Alpes about 40 kilometres north of Valence. Despite the pleasant setting for the village it would probably go unremarked by visitors to the region if it wasn't for the extraordinary monument it contains.

The Palais Ideal

At the end of the 19th century (from 1879-1912), the local postman - Ferdinand Cheval - spent his spare time very industriously and slowly built a remarkable building, mostly using stones and pebbles that he collected during his deliveries, now known as the Palais Ideal.

After dreaming of his project for 12 years, Ferdinand Cheval got to work, collecting stones during the day and building at night - a project that was to take more than 30 years to complete. Apparently Cheval had something of a reputation as being eccentric!

A fabulously ornate creation, it is an incredible achievement and fascinating to visit. It is not easy to classify or describe the building, since it is so unique, although the term 'naive architecture' has been applied.

The main building has a variety of scenes, recreations and highlights, including a hindu temple and an Egyptian Monument, and also further alcoves containing miniature versions of buildings from around the world - a swiss chalet, a medieval chateau and so on.

Before the building - the Palais Idéal - was even finished it had quite a reputation, and the support of Pablo Picasso as a surrealist monument.

When the palace was finished Cheval built a similar tomb in the town churchyard, where he is now buried. Taking eight years to build it has a certain gothic appeal (although I'm not sure it's what I might choose for my own tomb!)

The building is now a classified historic monument, and open to the public all year round (except the second half of january), admission price around 5 euros.

You can find more local travel ideas in the Drome guide and the Rhone-Alpes guide.

See also:

Map of Palais Ideal and places nearby

Visit near Palais Ideal with France This Way reviews

... or see ALL recommended places to visit in Drome

Address: Hauterives, Grand-Serre, Valence, Rhone-Alpes, 26390, France || GPS: latitude 45.2561, longitude 5.02722

Plan your visit to Palais Ideal, Drome

Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby

  • Saint-Antoine-l'Abbaye: most beautiful village (17 km)
  • Jardin japonais: remarkable garden (27 km)
  • Vienne: town of art and history (32 km)
  • Grottes de Choranche: site of natural beauty (35 km)

Market days in Palais Ideal, France

Regular market(s) are held in Palais Ideal each Tuesday. (Markets are held in the morning unless stated.)

The French version of this page is at Palais Ideal (Francais)