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  • Philip Dunn

Philip's Francofile 2019 (Part3)

Chers amis et famille,


I left la Londe-les-Maures on the morning of Saturday 29 June and headed northwest with the temperature in the low forties. I avoided autoroutes wherever practical, had lunch in Grignan, where it was still unremittingly scorchio, and had an overnight stop in Roussillon en Isère, just south of Lyon. The next almost equally hot morning, before continuing on my original heading, I made a little detour northeast as, in my researches of the area, I had became intrigued by mentions of le Palais Idéal du Facteur Cheval in Hautrives.

It would seem that, one day in April 1879, returning from his daily round, (some 40km on foot), country postman Ferdinand Cheval, then aged 43, stumbled upon a stone that was so unusual that it reminded him of a dream sinking slowly into oblivion: a fairytale palace beyond imagining. Taking his inspiration from the countryside he walked each day, from illustrated magazines that he distributed on his rounds and even postcards of Hindu temples, he collected stones in his trusted wheelbarrow and spent the next 33 years, working even at night by the light of an oil lamp, singlehandedly building this marvellous and extraordinarily unique structure.



I came upon this inscription in a cramped and obscure part of the interior, and I use my attempt at a translation of it to caption my photos:



In winter as in summer...



...night and day I walked..



...I travelled the plain and the hillside...



...even the stream...



...to bring the hard stone...



...chiselled by nature...



...it's my back who paid for it...



...I have braved all...



...even death...




...in the evening...



...in the middle of the night...



...when humankind rests...



...I work on my palace...



...none shall have my pains.

Surveillez cet endroit. Il y a plus à venir bientôt.

Love,

Philip Xx

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