Set on the banks of the Loire, Amboise is dominated by its 15th-century château set on an escarpment above the town. Once the playground of Charles VIII, it’s also the final resting place of Leonardo da Vinci, who lived and worked nearby. You can visit his grand manor house, the Château du Clos Lucé, stroll the streets or browse through the lively Sunday market stalls for a taste of provincial French life. Along with narrow streets lined with half-timbered houses, you'll also find cave dwellings built into the cliffs.
France specialist Jesse
Centrally located, Amboise is a great place to base your visit to the Loire Valley. But I always make time to explore the town itself, which has medieval streets, a ruined castle and a museum dedicated to resident Leonardo da Vinci.
Things to see and do in Amboise
Lording over the town from its lofty position, Château d'Amboise was the childhood home of Charles VIII. In the late 15th century he decided to turn the medieval fortress into a fitting monument to his aspirations. His extravagant Renaissance and Gothic additions transformed the château into a lavish palace five times its present size, but the young king died aged 28 before the work was completed.
Charles’ cousin and heir Louis XII inherited the castle and continued the renovations. Over time, war, a brutal battle with the Huguenots and financial woes meant the château was much altered and eventually reduced in size.
It’s still a highly impressive place with massive ramps leading up its great towers, which allowed access to horses and carriages. Inside, its delicate fan vaulting, monumental fireplaces, large-scale tapestries and original furnishings give a good impression of how court life must have been.
One of the most impressive rooms is the flamboyant Gothic chapel dedicated to Saint Hubert. It’s here Leonardo da Vinci is buried. Along with touring the château, it’s also worth walking along the ramparts. They offer far-reaching views of the town and river, as do the lavish formal gardens.
Leonardo da Vinci's house at Clos Lucé
In the early 16th century, the 64-year-old Leonardo da Vinci moved to Amboise at the request of François I, who was very interested in the Italian Renaissance movement. Da Vinci was given the grand 15th-century manor house the Château du Clos Lucé as a residence.
Here, he continued to draw, paint and invent, and models of many of his contraptions are on display in the house and its gardens. You can tour the rooms in which da Vinci worked and see the bedroom where he slept and eventually died in May 1519. The great artist and inventor became a good friend of François I and died in his arms, three years after moving to Amboise.
Map of Amboise
Places & hotels on the map
Places near Amboise
- Château de Chenonceau 8 miles away
- The Loire Valley 10 miles away
- Château de Chaumont-sur-Loire 10 miles away
- Château de Cheverny 23 miles away
- Château de Villandry 23 miles away
- Château d'Azay-le-Rideau 27 miles away
- Château de Chambord 29 miles away
- Chinon 40 miles away
- Normandy 109 miles away
- Paris 118 miles away
- Rouen 141 miles away
- Honfleur 144 miles away
- Mont Saint-Michel 144 miles away
- Bayeux 151 miles away
- Dordogne 167 miles away
- Sarlat-la-Canéda 176 miles away
- Beynac-et-Cazenac 179 miles away
- La Roque-Gageac 180 miles away
- Castelnaud-la-Chapelle 181 miles away
- Saint-Émilion 184 miles away
- Reims 189 miles away
- Bordeaux 194 miles away
- Arras 215 miles away
- Lyon 216 miles away
- Lille 242 miles away
- Rhône-Alpes 264 miles away
- Annecy 265 miles away
- Talloires 271 miles away
- Uzès 288 miles away
- Orange 292 miles away
- Pont-du-Gard 295 miles away
- Alsace 297 miles away
- Châteauneuf-du-Pape wine region 298 miles away
- Biarritz 300 miles away
- Colmar 300 miles away
- Chamonix 300 miles away
Photos of Amboise
Accommodation choices for Amboise
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