Amboise Castle, Clos Lucé and what else to see

Last Updated on 04/07/2024

Amboise has a number of advantages compared to other cities in the Loire Valley. This is a central position, transport accessibility and a concentration of attractions: three castles, a beautiful view from the river, the old town and several entertainments on the outskirts. If you visit everything, it will take two days. One thing: the city is well aware of its advantages, which is reflected in prices.

Around Chenonceau: attractions map from Amboise to Loches
Loire Castles. Blois region attractions map

Around Chinon: Loire Valley map from Tours to Angers
By car, bike and public transport in the Loire Valley
Best castles to see in Loire Valley
Loire cycle route. Tours – Villandry
Loire Valley Castles. Blois castle
Loire valley Chambord castle
Loire valley Chenonceau castle
Attractions of Tours city
Loches and Chedigny village

The quantity seen does not really correspond to the price. There are no miracles: if something has been destroyed, stunning interiors will not appear there. If the photos are not online, then this is also a signal. Therefore, we evaluate our financial and time capabilities and carefully choose what to visit so as not to be disappointed. Families with children should check prices especially carefully, since there are almost no discounts for families on the Loire. The topic about which Loire castle is better will help you.

A little history

The place first entered French history in 504, when Clovis I, king of the Franks, and Alaric II, king of the Visigoths, met on an island in the middle of the Loire and pretended to negotiate something.

There is a wade on the Loire here, which ensured further development: the wade had to be protected and the area strengthened. The settlement and fortifications are controlled by the Amboise family. The fortress was rebuilt in the 9th century. By the 12th century, the fortress gradually became a residence.

For participation in the rebellion, the Amboise castle was confiscated in 1434 in favor of the crown, and the kings immediately appreciated it as a place to educate royal youth.
The future Charles VIII grew up in the fortress, made it his favorite residence and rebuilt it into a palace. Thus, at the end of the 15th century, the late Gothic chapel, the apartments of the king and queen and the park on the terrace appeared.

Louis XII and Francis I continued construction, but preferred other residences. By the end of the 16th century, the castle was turned into a prison for noble people. After that, it passed from hand to hand and was destroyed until it became the property of the state. At the beginning of the 19th century, two thirds of the buildings were destroyed. At the end of the 19th century, elderly people lived here.

Amboise Castle (Chateau d’Amboise)

The main advantage of the castle is its architecture.

Almost all the best you see is outside. The only thing that cannot be seen from below is the interiors of the Gothic Chapel of St. Hubert (late 15th century), where Leonardo da Vinci was presumably buried.

After all the destruction, the buildings of Charles VIII were preserved:
– royal apartments (central building with turrets)
– two large “horse” towers. You can ride horses in them in a circle: one is next to the royal apartments, the second is from the city side.
– chapel

Amboise castle

The wing of Louis XII has also been preserved (it can be seen from the courtyard). On the left is the wing of Charles VIII, on the right is the wing of Louis XII.

Without buildings, the inner space of the fortress looks bare.

Amboise old town

Like all towns in the region, Amboise is built predominantly from white tuff, with occasional inclusions of half-timbered houses. Most tourists walk along the long pedestrian street parallel to the river and along the street along the castle.

Interesting buildings:
– clock tower (15th century, partly 13th century)
– Church of St. Florentin next to the tower and castle (15-16th century, built at the request of Louis XI)

Clos Lucé castle

The territory of Clos Lucé castle belonged to the monks since the 13th century, and by the end of the 15th century it became a royal summer residence. The future king Francis I often visited here in his youth, who then started this whole massive castles development in the 16th century and invited Leonardo da Vinci to live in Clos Luce. 3 years later Leonardo died here.

After the death of Leonardo and the change of several owners, the castle ended up in the hands of the Amboise family for a long time. From these owners, the 18th century interiors were preserved, which, however, were sacrificed in 2017 for an renovation in the style of “what it might have been like when Leonardo lived there.”

Both the palace and the park display models made from drafts by Leonardo da Vinci. The park itself is very good just as a park.
In a separate building, the architectural and artistic heritage of Leonardo is interpreted (models and digital images of paintings to the walls).

What else to see in Amboise

Gaillard castle

There is another small palace in Amboise – Château-Gaillard. It was built at the request of the same Charles VIII. Having participated in the Italian War (war as an educational excursion for monarchs in the medieval way), he admired Italian architecture and gardens and ordered a residence in the same style.

The palace was built on a slope and was well protected by cliffs to the north, which created a warm microclimate and allowed the southern plants to acclimatize, for the first time in France.

The restoration of the palace and redevelopment of the gardens were completed quite recently – in 2014.

Park Mini Chateaux

The miniature park literally changes its shoes on the fly – from a small amusement park to a miniature park. If you have been to large miniature parks, you will be rather disappointed: there are no additional features, no miniature trains, running minicars and pressing buttons. Two antediluvian carousels, which also operate a couple of hours a day, do not help.
For families, the price does not meet expectations: children pay decently, but the mentioned carousels and small playgrounds, which are worse than city ones, do not pay for the need not to climb, not run and look at models that look (to children) all the same. The minigolf shown in the advertisement is closed.

For adults, a visit may make sense – to see what they have already seen and what they would like to visit. The castle models themselves are made well. The detail is sometimes lacking, but this is common for parks like this. The people figures are disappointing, primitive for such parks – knights on foot, knights on horseback, princesses. Similar ones are sold everywhere in the region.
The number of castle models is gradually increasing.
Summarizing the above: visitors are investing in a potentially good future park.

The park is located on the outskirts of the city (it’s a bit far to walk, you need to drive up).

Amboise castle model


The Chanteloupe Pagoda is the only thing left of the large palace Сhâteau de Chanteloup (18th century). There is a pond in front of the pagoda. You can go upstairs. Entrance to the territory is paid, and very paid for the quantity presented.
The pagoda is also located on the ring road.

Pagoda model.

Candy factory with shop and demonstration

If all the previous attractions were on the left bank, then this one is located on the right, not far from the station.

Production demonstrations happen quite rarely, a couple of times a week. But they make it from the heart: they talk for an hour, make small dragees for visitors, then nougat. Quite interesting, even though everything is in French. I would, of course, like to have the main points translated into English, especially since in the era of automatic translators this will not cost anything at all.

Touraine Aquarium

The Aquarium of Touraine is not located in Amboise, but in a neighboring village.

This is medium sized aquarium. There are two big parts to it: freshwater fish and coral reef fish. Everything is clear with the second part – it is smaller and is a typical illustration for the cartoon “Finding Nemo”. The first part is larger, and I have never seen freshwater aquariums of this size. Various large sturgeon and other fish are presented here, and the highlight of the program is the huge catfish. There are also curious specimens that are rarely found in aquariums, such as newts or small crocodiles.

Around Chenonceau: attractions map from Amboise to Loches
Loire Castles. Blois region attractions map

Around Chinon: Loire Valley map from Tours to Angers
By car, bike and public transport in the Loire Valley
Best castles to see in Loire Valley
Loire cycle route. Tours – Villandry
Loire Valley Castles. Blois castle
Loire valley Chambord castle
Loire valley Chenonceau castle
Attractions of Tours city
Loches and Chedigny village

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