Yes, Tombée du Ciel, House Fallen from the Sky. That about sums up this unusual topsy-turvy house. It rests in a field of tall yellow grass with palms trees in this oasis at the edge of Marrakech’s northern section.
The modest house was originally located in the small town of Fouras, in the Charente‐Maritime region of the French coast. It rests oddly on one half of its roof with the body of the house reaching for the stars, a little like a dead cow with its legs stiffly stretched upwards. How did this curiosity happen to end up in Morocco in such a predicament?
This is an amazing art form by Jean Francois Fortou, a Paris-born, French artist who splits his time between Marrakech and Madrid. His upside-down house is fully decorated inside with everything arranged upside down and a bit off kilter. The kitchen is laid out with two red chairs plus a pale blue table set with full soup bowls, terrine, cutlery and a bottle of wine. The wooden floorboards above anchor a simple bed to the ceiling…. I mean the floor. Walking up the ladder to the first floor can make you dizzy. You feel as though you are in one of those carnival funhouses from childhood. Indeed, the atmosphere has a nostalgic feel flowing through the structure.
The artist offers other works that include houses stacked one upon the next – melded together, unique animals and chairs that explode out of windows. He loves to play with perspective and angles and size. His giant “Monumental Giraffe” can be found hovering over a conference table or peering around the corner of a fence.
Tombée du Ciel is Fourtou’s is his second large-scale sculptural work in Marrakech. Also on his property, Dar el Sadaka, is his well-known La Maison de Géant, The Giant’s House, with all the objects set at twice their normal size or more. Reached through a labyrinth of bamboo on one side and olive trees on the other, the house evokes the past and pulls you back into a child-sized world with the towering chairs and an enormous bed. A giant pencil is ready to draw in the giant notebook – all to make you feel a part of that world again. The house is set at three-quarter scale, adapted to a four-year old’s perspective, and on a one-fifth scale – not much larger than a doll house.
Djemâa el Fna Square is alive with its multitude of street artists and stalls of dried fruit or orange juice freshly-pressed. Small restaurants take over its center from the early evening, adding a rich scent to the surroundings. No one really knows how it came into being, but over the years it has become the beating heart of Marrakech, where spectacles of fire eaters, mime artists, snake charmers and street musicians perform at every turn.
Marrakech is a wonder of a city from its Moorish palaces, to the raft of stalls filling suqs (bazaars), to Tombée du Ciel. To discover this remarkable city, begin with President’s Pick Morocco Mazes & Mysteries.