February 07, 2010

Euclide da Costa Ferreira, la Maison Bleue/the Blue House


picture from the city of Dives website

When in the 1990's I began researching outsider environments, la maison bleue was kind of a hidden garden one only could take a look at by secretly peeping over the enclosure wall. Nowadays the site still can be visited only occasionaly, but anyhow it has a protected status, restoration has begun and the site has become known rather well.

Life and works


Born in a poor family, Euclide da Costa Ferreira (1902-1984) in 1924 migrated from Portugal to France where he had found work. He first settled himself in the Somme area and later on moved to the community of Dives-sur-Mer in Normandy, where in 1947 he was naturalised. He went to live in a simple cabin he reconstructed into a house, located on a small plot of land along the rue des frères Bisson.

Employee at the nearby Tréfimétaux metal factory, due to a tuberculosis da Costa in the early 1950's had to stop working.

In 1957 he constructed a monument in memory of Laika, the dog that was sent into space with a russian sputnik (November 12, 1957). This was the beginning of a project which would keep him active for the next twenty years.


He continued his creative activity by making various replicas, typically a couple of meters high, which represented religious buildings, like the Notre Dame in Lourdes, the Fatima Basilique (1962), the Paris Sacré Coeur (1965) and the Sainte-Rita-de-Cascia (1967). He decorated these constructions with a lot of blue mosaic (pieces of pottery, glass, mirrors, flagstones) and displayed them in the garden of some 300 m2 around the house.

Da Costa also made sculptures of all kind of animals, but he hasn't made sculptures representing people.

Around 1977 da Costa ended the further development of the site. He died in 1984.


this picture and the next one
from the city of Dives website

In 1989 his widow sold the property to the community of Dives, just a short time before she passed away. The couple had no children.

Saving the site for the future.

In 1991 the site was declared a Monument Historique. The city began to restore the garden, which included covering it with a protective device. However, due to the lack of funds in 1994 further activities were suspended.

So the site remained closed for the public, apart from occasional visits arranged by an association of friends, which was founded in 2004.



This association also became active in raising funds to save the site for the future.

With the help of a number of sponsors and public authorities enough money was collected to let the Dives community council decide in december 2009 to start in 2010 a project of restoration. The first phase was a study to see what measures should be taken, also meant to raise the interest of other sponsors.

In october 2010 the local authorities decided that the next phase would include the restoration of two important elements of the site, the Laïka Mausoleum and the Sacré Coeur. This project was completed end 2011.

In 2013 the replica of the Notre-Dame de Douvres-la-Délivrande was restored.

Some documentation:
Claude Lechopier, Une mosaique à ciel ouvert, la maison bleue de Dives. Cabourg (Ed. Cahiers du Temps), 2004. ISBN 2-911855-62.
* A movie by Ferdi Roth, Un jardin aux églises de faience (1979, 12' )
* Also from 1979, a thesis written by Pascale Herman, partly dealing with da Costa. A translation into english of this french text is available in my collection of texts on outsider environments
* Website of the association of friends (new version, in french); there is also an older version
* Article on SPACES website, with pictures by Seymour Rosen (april 1988)
* A collection of pictures (2010) by Sophie Lepetit, in three posts of her weblog: .
     - general views
     - animals
      -details

first published feb 2010, revised june 2010, dec 2012, june dec 2013

Euclide da Costa Ferreira 
la Maison Bleue
13 rue des frères Bisson
Dives-sur-Mer
14160 Normandie France
closed for the public, except occasional open days

2 comments:

  1. I have had so much fun catching up on your recent posts, it never fails to amaze and delight me that there are still such characters and treasures to be found in the world.. If I had the money I think i would love to spend a year visiting the places you post here, thank you so much for searching and documenting these things :-D

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  2. Hi watercats, thanks for the comment and yes, these sites would be worth a long long trip to visit them all....I wouldn't have the money too for such a trip, so I thought to make a webtrip. All the best.

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