Postman’s Incredible DIY Castle Draws Huge Crowds in France


A living inspiration to Do-it-Yourselfers everywhere: France’s Le Palais Idéal. (Photo: Eric Bajart/Wikimedia Commons)

It’s the most palatial DIY project you’ll ever see.

The French palace, Le Palais Idéal (“The Ideal Palace”), in Hauterives was built by a mail carrier out of the rocks he collected on his route over a 30-year period. Now, the landmark is a major tourist attraction, drawing about 150,000 visitors a year.

19th century postal carrier Ferdinand Cheval would walk 18 miles each day to deliver the mail in the southeastern France village. One day, he came upon an interesting-looking rock and decided to build a castle. 

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So starting in 1879 and continuing over the next 33 years, he began collecting more rocks while walking his route. He was picking up so many, he eventually started bringing a wheelbarrow with him to work.


According to the palace’s official website, it features “giants, fairies, mythological figures” from all over the world. (Photo: Eric Bajart/Wikimedia Commons)

At night, Cheval would work by an oil lamp to mix the stones he’d found during the day with lime and concrete. What made his project even more amazing is that Cheval had no training in carpentry, masonry or architecture (and as YouTube wouldn’t be invented for another 125 years, he had no instructional videos to help him either).


The palace now draws about 150,000 visitors a year. (Photo: Chevallier/Wikimedia Commons)

The result of the patient postman’s 30-year DIY project: an intricately designed palace that was more than 30 feet high and 85 feet long. The palace was finished in 1912. Cheval died 12 years later at 88.

Now, the Ideal Palace is a French Historical Monument — and a living reminder to Do-It-Yourselfers everywhere that a dream, patience and a lot of sweat can yield amazing results.

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