Royal Chateau of Amboise
Built on top of a cliff overlooking the Loire, the royal château of Amboise guards the city with great majesty. From the middle Ages to the 19 th century through the golden age of the Renaissance, it impersonates more than any other monument the great French history. Home to the king Charles VIII and queen Anne de Bretagne, it also witnessed the extraordinary rise of a young boy with exceptional destiny: Francois I. King in 1515, he made of Amboise one of his main residences. There he pleasured the Court with unbelievable parties, imagined by a world-renown maestro: Leonardo da Vinci. The Saint Hubert chapel, a jewel of Gothic architecture, still preserves today the tomb of the greatest artist in the world history.
“Gardens with a nice Mediterranean perfume “
The gardens, with their nice Italian and Mediterranean smells, open onto an amazing panorama. They are listed as a World Heritage by the UNESCO. The jardin de Naples were designed by Italian master gardener Dom Pacello da Mercogliano. They roll out their green carpet from the dwelling to a wonderful bed of box trees. The jardins d’Orient, planted on the heights of the estate, are a tribute to Emir Abd El Kader and his companions. Therefore, they invite the visitor to remembrance and contemplation.
The Royal Chateau of Amboise was awarded the certification “Remarkable garden”, for the quality of its garden and his efforts towards the presentation to the public.
An enchantment of lights
Each summer, the gardens and walls of the royal château illuminate and sound with the shots of harquebuses and sword fights! Admire the historical light show La Prophétie d’Amboise, directed by awarded-director Damien Fontaine. Played by nearly 200 costumed volunteers, it reenacts the great hours of the reign of king Francois I within the most magnificent setting of the Renaissance.
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Tourist Office Amboise Loire Valley
Quai du général de Gaulle - 37400 AMBOISE
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1) Château Royal d&rsquoAmboise
Château d&rsquoAmboise didn&rsquot start off as a royal castle. The first castle here was built in the 10th century. After King Charles VII seized the Chatêau from a wayward subject in 1434, the castle became a favorite of French royalty, with each generation adding and modifying the existing castle.
The Château was at the height of its renaissance however, when one of France&rsquos most famous kings, François I, came to the throne. Born in nearby Cognac, he came to the château at 4-years old with his mother Queen Louise of Savoie in the early 16th century.
While François Ier didn&rsquot spend all his time here (he preferred the Châteaux at Fontainebleau, Blois, and Chambord), he did put up Da Vinci at a nearby residence Clos Lucé. It is said that there was an underground passage between the Château d&rsquoAmboise and Clos Lucé for François I to visit his favorite artist as he pleased. (You can read more about the French Royal Family here.)
The castle began to decline after François I, at times becoming a prison, and being confiscated during the French Revolutions of 1789 and 1848.
Today, It is a UNESCO world heritage site, and recognized as a historic monument. Inside of the Château has some objects from the time of François I, but years of plundering have meant that original furnishings are scarce.
The most impressive part of the castle is its 2 towers called Tour des Minimes and Tour Heurtault, which don&rsquot have stairs inside, but instead a gentle slope. Because the castle is built directly on the banks of the Loire river, the gardens of the castle are on a terrace overlooking the quai. The 2 circular towers have a large entrance directly on the quai where soldiers on horseback and even large carriages can enter mount up to where the garden terrace is. Impressive indeed!
Chateaux of the Loire Valley, France. Part II
We continue our journey along the Loire Valley. The castles of this region are created in different architectural styles and have different histories, but all of them are truly majestic and significant landmarks of France.
Several castles have a relation to the famous Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci. One of them is Château de Chambord, located 6 kilometres away from the left bank of the Loire river and 14 kilometres to the east of Blois. The construction was carried out between 1519 and 1547, according to the order of Francis I, who wanted to live closer to his beloved lady &mdash Duchess de Thoury. This masterpiece of French Renaissance architecture is one of the most recognizable castles in the country. The name of the architect is not precisely known, but historians have certain suggestions that Leonardo may have taken part in the projecting the castle as at that time he lived and worked at the court of King Francis I.
The facade of the building is 156 meters long and 117 meters wide. The plan is arranged around central part of the castle which is called "donjon" it was not meant to deal with attacks though, but still it was created according to the model of a typical medieval fortified castle. Inside the donjon there are 5 living floors connected by 77 staircases, 426 rooms with 282 fireplaces, and 800 sculptured columns decorating the exterior of the castle.
An open double spiral staircase in the central part of the castle is a rather typical feature of Leonardo da Vinci's style. It has two stairs that spirally turn in one direction without meeting each other. Thus descending people can never come in sight with those who go upstairs, and vice versa. This monumental staircase decorated with carvings leads to the upper terrace is also created in Leonardo's style.
But the Genius of the Renaissance did not live to see it fulfilled: he had passed away several months before the construction of the castle began and was buried in the Château d'Amboise.
In the Middle Ages the mighty family of Amboise owned a fortress and a town, elevating 81 meters above the river and making it possible to control the spur above the Loire. In the 15th century the Château d'Amboise belonged to Duchess Louise of Savoy. Her son, King Francis I, was raised here and spent a lot of time in this castle. As a court architect, Leonardo da Vinci lived and worked in the nearby Clos Lucé, connected to the castle by an underground passage. Clos Lucé is the place where he finished his famous painting of Mona Lisa, and this is where he died in 1519. But the tomb of da Vinci is situated in the chapel of Saint-Hubert, in Amboise.
During the French Revolution, the significant part of the castle was demolished. In order to stop the process of devastation, in 1872 the Third Republic entrusted the remnants of the castle to the House of Orléans. Nowadays the Château d'Amboise, being significantly rebuilt in comparison to the initial project, is under the protection of the Foundation Saint-Louis headed by the Comte de Paris.
The name of King Francis I is connected, though indirectly, to one more castle &mdash the Château d'Azay-le-Rideau. The construction began in 1510 above a picturesque curve of the Indre river. It occupies the site of a former feudal castle: in the 12th century it was built by the local seigneur Ridel d'Azay. He was notorious for his cruel nature and gained the name "the Devil's child". In the 15th century that castle, being the property of Duke of Burgundy at that time, fell victim of a battle and was burnt to the ground. And nothing was left even of the village located nearby. Later, a new town appeared here and got the name of Azay-le-Brûlé (literally "the Burnt").
Gilles Berthelot, the local banker and Treasurer-General of the King Francis I finances, received these lands by the right of succession, and between 1510 and 1528 he had the castle built for his wife Philippa. There is a legend that the future castle appeared in her dreams, and exquisite towers and an elegant staircase were created according to her taste. Nowadays the Château d'Azay-le-Rideau is slightly reconstructed, comparing to its initial project, and now it is a good example of both Gothic and Renaissance architecture.
One more outstanding castle among the Châteaux of the Loire Valley is the Château de Valençay: geographically, it belongs to the Indre département, which is not actually the part of the Loire Valley. But its architecture and time of creation invites comparison with other castles of the Loire Valley, namely the Château de Chambord (and you can make sure of it with the help of our virtual tour).
One of the most well-off families of the 16th century &mdash financiers d'Estampes &mdash came to a great idea and fulfilled it: on the site of the demolished 12th century fortress they decided to build a Chambord-like royal castle. Although the construction began in 1540 and was completed only two centuries later. All the elements of the castle are well-balanced.
In 1803 a new rather famous owner came to the Valençay &mdash Charles Maurice de Talleyrand, who worked as a foreign minister at the court of Napoleon Bonaparte. He turned his property into the centre of high-society life, and that was when a theatre appeared here.
In the beginning of the 20th century a park was made here and during the Second World War the Talleyrands safely sheltered in the castle such treasures of the Louvre as the Winged Victory of Samothrace and the Venus de Milo.
In 1979 the castle came to an association of historic chateaux of France. It is a genuine example of Renaissance architecture and French (Mansart) classicism. To provide interest of tourists the museum of the old autos was opened and some exotic animal, such as llamas and peacocks, are kept in the park.
Our next virtual tour along the Loire Valley will get us acquainted with Richard the Lionheart, a secret royal wedding and intrigues of the French throne.
St. Hubert’s Chapel at Amboise: A Resting Place for Leonardo da Vinci
The Gothic Chapel of Saint-Hubert was built between 1491 and 1496 during the reign of Charles VIII.
It’s perched right at the edge of the wall surrounding Chateau d’Amboise, towering over the town far below.
The chapel is tiny but exquisite. The facade tells the story of St. Hubert. He seems to have been an actual person, born around 656 to 658 in Toulouse. By the time he died on May 30, 727, he had become the first Bishop of Liege.
Hubert was a courtier living the good life of feasting, wearing fine clothes, and hunting in the vast royal forests of various parts of France. But when his wife died in childbirth, it seems he had a sort of midlife crisis. He chucked his royal duties and turned his back on religion. Instead he spent all his time hunting, all by himself.
On Good Friday, while everybody else was in church, he was out hunting alone as usual when he had a miraculous vision. A magnificent stag appeared with a crucifix in its antlers. A voice told him to mend his ways and get back to religious life, which he did. He became known as the “Apostle of the Ardennes,” devoted himself to all manner of good works, and died peacefully in old age.
Hubert became the patron saint of hunters (of course). He was much venerated in the Middle Ages for being able to cure rabies. The cure involved using St. Hubert’s Key, a fearsome metal nail-like brand that was heated red-hot and applied to the spot where an unfortunate person was bitten by a rabid animal. I suppose it worked at times, but I’m betting Leonardo da Vinci could have improved on the method if he’d set his mind to it.
St. Hubert has his very own club today in the UK. It’s dedicated to deer and wild boar management.
St. Hubert’s story is very similar to that of St. Eustace, but it does seem they were different people who had the same vision. I first encountered the crucifix-in-antlers story on a visit to Canterbury Cathedral in England, and wrote about it. Eustace did not fare as well as Hubert, though. Legend has it that Eustace, his wife and children were eventually roasted alive by the Emperor Hadrian.
St. Hubert’s chapel is lovely and peaceful inside even when there are a lot of tourists visiting Amboise. People duck in to see Leonardo’s tomb, but they don’t linger.
The chapel is a nice resting place for Leonardo, who died just up the street in his last house, Clos Luce, in 1519. And I’m sure he appreciates the visitors from all over the world.
Chateau d'Amboise Panorama - History
Train in 1st Class from Paris to Tours
A chauffeur will meet you for a private transfer between the train station and your lodging in Amboise
Suggestion: free visit of Amboise, the Royal City
An old, long stone bridge overlooking the romantic Loire River leads into the idyllic royal city of Amboise.
Elegant Amboise, childhood home of Charles VIII and final resting place of the incomparable Leonardo da Vinci, is gorgeously situated on the southern bank of the Loire, guarded by a soaring château.
Go for a stroll through Amboise or along the lovely riverbank after seeing the château. The town has a well-preserved Renaissance architecture and half-timbered townhouses dating back to the 15th century. Amboise is also the location of Leonardo da Vinci’s last home, the Château du Clos Lucé.
You may want to take a relaxing break on one of the many café terraces and soak up the beauty or dine in a gastronomic restaurant.
The Farmers Markets offer a large choice of produce and local specialities.
Amboise is a convivial base for exploring the Loire countryside and nearby châteaux.
Day 2: Amboise
Private Tour of a Troglodyte Cellar with Wine and Cheese Tasting
The Loire Valley is the largest wine region in France. With its diversity of climates and soils, it produces a wide variety of renowned wines.
Daniel, a local guide passionate about wine, offers you a tour of a 16th-century troglodyte cellar. Subterranean galleries like these are ideal places for storing and tasting wine! Formerly tufa stone quarries, they were dug to supply stone for the construction of the Loire châteaux.
Daniel introduces you to the philosophy of wine, shares the history of the Loire Valley grapes and soils, and shows you how the local wines are made and stored. The visit concludes with a tasting of three Loire wines, each paired with a different local cheese.
Day 3: Chenonceau - Amboise - Villandry
Private Full-Day Tour of the Loire Valley
Experience Chenonceau, Amboise & Villandry gardens with your licenced driver-guide.
The unique architecture of the Château of Chenonceau makes it one of the Loire Valley’s most exquisite. It’s nicknamed “the Ladies Château”, because of its connection to influential French historical figures Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de Medici. The magnificent Renaissance gardens are the cherry on top.
Enjoy a meal in Amboise (not included) before a walk around the Royal Castle of Amboise. The chateau was the residence of Charles VIII and Francois I. It’s an architectural wonder that transitions from Gothic to Renaissance styles. Its Saint Hubert Chapel is the resting place of the great Leonardo da Vinci.
Finish the day in the Château de Villandry’s lush gardens and sample the fine local wine on an excursion to Loire Valley vineyards.
Day 4: Chambord - Amboise
Private Full-Day Guided Tour of the Château de Chambord, Château de Beauregard, and Château de Villesavin
Visit the privately-owned Château de Beauregard and its 173-acre (70-hectare) estate. It is located between Blois and Chambord and was built at the end of the 15th century. Today the Renaissance estate houses an exceptional portrait gallery depicting 327 European monarchs, ministers, clergymen, diplomats, and other notable people. Enjoy a traditional French breakfast at the château, followed by a guided tour of this unique collection.
Your next stop is the Château de Chambord, a true Renaissance masterpiece. It is the biggest and most majestic of the Loire palaces. Created as a hunting lodge for King François I, it is monumental work of 440 rooms. It sits on a 21-square mile property, equivalent in size to the entire city of Paris. The property features extensive royal gardens and unspoiled woods enclosed by a 19-mile (31-kilometer) wall. Elements seem to be inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s work. The view from the top offers a gorgeous panorama of the roofs, towers, chimneys, and the surrounding estate.
This extraordinary day ends with a visit to the nearby Château de Villesavin. It was built as a private residence for Jean Le Breton, the secretary of King Francois I who supervised the construction of the Château de Chambord. As he used the same architects and crew on both projects, this mansion is nicknamed “La Cabane de chantier de Chambord” (the Chambord construction hut).
Day 5: Amboise - Paris
A chauffeur will meet you for a private transfer between your lodging and the train station
Train in 1st Class from Tours to Paris
About This Tour:
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- This itinerary includes transport, activities, guides, accommodations with breakfasts, and other listed services
- Price is in USD per person, assuming double occupancy. Note that prices and availability are subject to change.
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Chenonceau Castle © Yvan Lastes – licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons
Le Parc des mini-châteaux
On the road to Chenonceaux lies the Parc des Mini Chateaux. This is a park covering 5 hectares, which houses the 1/25 scale models of the 50 most famous chateaux of the Loire Valley. If you can’t see all of the authentic Loire chateaux at once, visiting this park will be the next best thing… One piece of advice: come at dusk when the illuminated show of the model chateaux brings a great fairytale atmosphere to the place for young and old alike!
Pagode de Chanteloup
At the edge of the Amboise woods stands a curious monument: a 44 metre tall Chinese Pagoda which was erected in 1775 by the Duke of Choiseul as an imitation of the one in Versailles. The Duke used to be King Louis XV’s most powerful minister, before falling in disgrace in 1770. He retired to Amboise and built a castle which disappeared in the 19th century. The Pagoda is the only building left standing on the Duke’s estate, and also the largest “folie” inherited from the Ancien Régime. The Pagoda is open to the public and you can reach it by climbing an indoor staircase. From its top (149 steps), the beautiful view stretches above the forest to Amboise, the Loire Valley and as far as Tours.
The chateau de Chenonceau is only 18 km away from Amboise. This chateau is arguably one of the Loire Valley’s most famous, with its arches spanning the River Cher. Chenonceau is one of the most popular chateaux in France… which becomes obvious as soon as you arrive, as there are so many visitors.
The Amboise Conspiracy
But the chateau’s history does not end here. Throughout France’s troublesome 16 th Century, the castle was the home of King Henry II and his wife, Catherine de’ Medici (along with her once prospective daughter-in-law Mary Stuart , Queen of Scots). Ruling through her three successive sons, Medici desperately attempted to keep the Valois monarchy alive throughout a period of violent religious turmoil, and she has dubbed by many historians as the most powerful woman of the century for her efforts. You can read about the est of her history in the Loire Valley in nearby Chateau Chenonceau.
It was during that time that the infamous Amboise conspiracy occurred, which saw an attempt by members of the Huguenot House of Bourbon (who were Protestants) to kidnap De Medici’s young son and rule through him. The influential and Catholic House of Guise responded mercilessly, executing over 1200 local Protestants and hanging their decomposing corpses from hooks on the façade of the château, forcing the Royal Court to leave Amboise.
The 6 most beautiful Loire Valley castles
1. Chateau de Chambord
According to most people, the Chateau de Chambord is the castle the most worthiest of being visited. As the hunting reserve of the king François I, its immense park is the biggest closed forest park in Europe, with an area that is similar to the city of Paris. Its facade is also spectacular with its hundreds of amply curved chimneys and chapiters. In addition, you can also attend the horse and raptor shows in the Chateau de Chambord (the raptors may graze your shoulder!).
2.Chateau de Chenonceau
The chateau de Chenonceau also named “le château des dames” (the castle of the ladies), spanning the river “le Cher” just like an elegant lady. Its history is marked and embellished by women. Thomas Bohier built the castle in 1513, but it was his wife Katherine Briçonnet who supervised the construction and imposed her style on the castle. Afterwards, Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de Médicis also added their personal touch. As a result, you will have the chance to promenade in the marvelous French garden and in the forest, and to cross and walk along the banks of the beautiful le Cher.
3.Chateau royal de Blois
To visit the chateau royal de Blois, is to discover a panorama of the French architecture history. In the center of the inner courtyard, four architectures of four different periods (from the medieval style to the classic style) are available for you to visit. Evidenced by the royal apartments sumptuously furnished and adorned with magnificent decorations, it is also a place which is evocative of the kingship and the daily life of the Court during the Renaissance.
4.Chateau de Cheverny
Domaine de Cheverny was a seigneurial property that had belonged to the same family for six centuries. Unlike many castles in the Loire Valley, Cheverny has always been inhabited and each generation contributes to the maintenance of the castle with passion, to keep the beauty of the place. Therefore, Cheverny presents the most beautiful interior and the most beautiful furniture. It is worth mentioning that, in the comic “The Adventure of Tintin”, Hergé used Cheverny as the model for Marlinspike Hall, you can also visit an exposition dedicated to the comic album.Chateau de Cheverny Marlinspike Hall in “The Adventure of Tintin”
The primary reason to visit Chateau d’Amboise is that it offers you a unique view of the panorama of the Loire Valley. With its terraced gardens, you have many different vast and magnificent views of the valley. Another thing to know: Leonard da Vinci who lived in Amboise, is buried in the Chateau d’Amboise. You can also visit the Chateau Clos Lucé which is right next to it, where Leonard da Vinci lived for his last three years.View from chateau d’Amboise
The castle of Chaumont-Sur-Loire, standing in the Loire Valley between Amboise and Blois, its construction was for the purpose of protecting Blois from the attacks of the Counts of Anjou. It may not be interesting to visit the castle itself, but its gardens do worth a visit. Each year, the castle hosts the International Garden Festival, from April to November. You will discover not only the style of “French garden”, but also different contemporary artistic landscape creation. Really amazing and surprising to discover!
Not only these 6 castles above, ParisbyM have selected for you the 19 most beautiful Loire Valley castles, you can check them out by clicking the marks on the following map!
The Château Royal of Amboise, standing firmly on its riverside rock facing the Loire river, was home to every king or queen of France for 160 years, up to the end of the 16th century. Built to control a strategic ford that was replaced in the Middle Ages by a bridge and the château began its life in the 11th century, when the notorious Fulk Nerra, Count of Anjou, rebuilt the stronghold in stone.
Expanded and improved over time, on 1434 it was seized by Charles VII of France, after its owner, Louis d'Amboise, was convicted of plotting against Louis XI and condemned to be executed in 1431. However, the king pardoned him but took his chateau at Amboise. Once in royal hands, the château became a favourite of French kings Charles VIII decided to rebuild it extensively, beginning in 1492 at first in the French late Gothic Flamboyant style and then after 1495 employing two Italian mason-builders, Domenico da Cortona and Fra Giocondo, who provided at Amboise some of the first Renaissance decorative motifs seen in French architecture.
Amboise was the site where a garden laid out somewhat in the Italian manner was first seen in France: the site of the origin of the French formal garden. At the time of Charles VIII, an Italian priest, Pasello da Mercogliano, is credited with laying it out. Charles widened the upper terrace, to hold a larger parterre, enclosed with latticework and pavilions round it Louis XII built a gallery. The parterres have been recreated in the 20th century as rectangles of lawns set in gravel and a formal bosquet of trees.
King Francis I was raised at Amboise, which belonged to his mother, Louise of Savoy, and during the first few years of his reign the château reached the pinnacle of its glory. As a guest of the King, Leonardo da Vinci came to Château Amboise in December 1515 and lived and worked in the nearby Clos Lucé, connected to the château by an underground passage. Tourists are told that he is buried in the Chapel of Saint-Hubert, adjoining the Château, which had been built in 1491–96.
Henry II and his wife, Catherine de' Medici, raised their children in Château Amboise along with Mary Stuart, the child Queen of Scotland who had been promised in marriage to the future French Francis II.
In 1560, during the French Wars of Religion, a conspiracy by members of the Huguenot House of Bourbon against the House of Guise that virtually ruled France in the name of the young Francis II was uncovered by the comte de Guise and stifled by a series of hangings, which took a month to carry out. By the time it was finished, 1200 Protestants were gibbetted, strung from the town walls, hung from the iron hooks that held pennants and tapestries on festive occasions and from the very balcony of the Logis du Roy. The Court soon had to leave the town because of the smell of corpses.
The abortive peace of Amboise was signed at Amboise on 12 March 1563, between Louis I de Bourbon, Prince de Condé, who had been implicated in the conspiracy to abduct the king, and Catherine de' Medici.
Amboise never returned to royal favour. At the beginning of the 17th century, the huge château was all but abandoned when the property passed into the hands of Gaston d'Orleans, the brother of the Bourbon King Louis XIII. After his death it returned to the Crown and was turned into a prison during the Fronde, and under Louis XIV of France it held disgraced minister Nicolas Fouquet and the duc de Lauzun. Louis XV made a gift of it to his minister the duc de Choiseul. During the French Revolution, the greater part of the château was demolished, a great deal more destruction was done, and an engineering assessment commissioned by Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte in the early 19th century resulted in a great deal of the château having to be demolished.
King Louis-Philippe began restoring it during his reign but with his abdication in 1848, the château was confiscated by the government and became for a while the home in exile to Emir Abd Al-Qadir. In 1873, Louis-Philippe’s heirs were given control of the property and a major effort to repair it was made. However, during the German invasion in 1940 the château was damaged further. Since 1840, the Château d'Amboise has been listed as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture.
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