La Bohème - Atlas Obscura

La Bohème

Yviers, France

The bizarre home and sculpture garden of an eccentric artist. 


In the French commune of Chalais, there is a garden filled with outlandish sculptures and other mesmerizing creations. This collection found its beginning in 1963, when plasterer and mason Lucien Favreau decided to build an elaborate tomb for his dog. This first foray into artistic expression awoke a new love of creation within him, a passion that would transform his yard into the incredible masterpiece now known as La Bohème.

Within this garden are concrete representations of many famous French figures, such as singers Mireille Mathieu and Georges Brassens, and of course, General Charles de Gaulle.  While most sculptures are simply made with concrete, there are others that use found objects, like glass bottles in the spine of a small crawling creature. There are also painted frescoes on the exterior of the house, which include a depiction of Ferdinand Cheval. Cheval was a postman who created Le Palais Idéal, an intricately carved castle in Hauterives. In the inscription of the fresco, Favreau reverently refers to Cheval as his “master.”

Favreau died in 1990 and was laid to rest in a tomb he built for himself. The garden he left behind is still maintained to this day. The interior of his home is also filled with art, with more large frescos everywhere. Separate arrangements are needed to visit the home. However, the garden is open at all times, allowing all who visit to enjoy these unconventional and fantastic creations.

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