Amboise – Visit Leonardo
During our visit in 1997, we stayed in a pleasant B&B outside and across the Loire from Amboise, so we had a view of the chateau from this bridge leading from the Île d’Or (midstream Loire) whenever we travelled (main photo). Unfortunately, because it was winter, everything tended to be grey.
The current Amboise was built by Charles VIII, when chateaux were developing from being fortresses into luxury residences, and sits upon earlier massive defensive walls. Back in 1560, the Catholic Guises accused the Protestant Huguenots of conspiracy, then hung about 1200 from the walls of the Chateau and anywhere else convenient. It seems that, because of the resulting smell, the French Royalty decamped afterwards. Much of the chateau has been dismantled, partly following the Revolution and partly in Napoleon’s time because it was unsound. Quite honestly, the interior of the residual building contains relatively little of interest apart from good views.
But Francois 1 had brought Leonardo da Vinci to France to enhance the Renaissance. When Leonardo died at Amboise in 1519, he was originally interred in a cloister within the chateau. Following the demolitions, his remains were relocated to the St Hubert Chapel (right of photo 2), within the chateau area – and this does provide real justification for a visit (photos 3,4). While in Amboise, you might also care to look at the nearby Close Luce, Leonardo’s former residence (closed in winter when we were there).
Amboise chateau is open daily except Christmas and New Year.