CHAT: Albuisson's Ideal Palace

In April 1879, postman Cheval stumbled over a funny shaped stone. It brought back memories of his fervent wish to build a fantastical palace. He got to work on it, at night, modelling his palace after the local landscape and the illustrated magazines and picture postcards he was delivering day by day. 33 years/10,000 days/93,000 hours later (at the age of 76) he finished his palace, which has now become a major regional tourist attraction.

Whilst the postal link might have been enough reason to visit the place, I had to go and see it because it was the subject of Pierre Albuisson's first French stamp engraving in 1984!

Looking at the stamp first, we find two images illustrating various parts of the palace. On the left we have a view of the complete palace, looking at the short northern facade and the longer western facade with its columns.

The illustration on the right depicts the Three Giants. They are Caesar, Archimedes and Vercingetorix. They can be found on the eastern facade.

But there is more. Albuisson has always been rather vocal about the importance of the philatelic documents which accompany most French stamp issues. They not only contain information regarding the issue, but also a printing of the stamp image in monochrome and usually some other engraved illustration as well.

For the Palais Idéal issue, Albuisson engraved a large illustration portraying the actual postman and yet another view of the palace, this time of the various turrets on the terrace of the building.

In all it was a great visit and interesting to see the building in real life. So if you're ever in the neighbourhood (south east of France), it's worth the detour.



  1. Wow! What an amazing piece of architectural art. It is sights like this that make me really look forward to the day my wife and I make the move to France! Tres bientot!


    1. And here's me thinking people only moved to France to be able to use hand-engraved stamps on their mail!
      But good luck with your upcoming adventure. I must admit the thought of moving there has crossed my mind as well once or twice, especially since this Brexit malarkey...


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