Visiting Chateau d'Amboise: Loire Valley, France
Perched atop a bluff above the scenic Loire River and the quaint French town of Amboise is a quintessential French chateau known appropriately as Chateau d'Amboise. With its stunning cliff-like setting and a gorgeous view looking out over the French countryside, it's clear why this location was selected for one of the more impressive chateaux of the Loire Valley.
Chateau d'Amboise dates back to the 11th century and has certainly seen its share of French history. Originally built as a fortress, by the mid-15th century the property was confiscated by the French monarchy and for the next century and a half would become a favorite residence of French royalty. By the 17th century, however, the fortunes of Chateau d'Amboise would turn and a period of decline began as the castle saw years of abandonment, use as a prison, and it's near destruction during the French Revolution.
In 1840 King Louis Philippe took an interest in the property and began a restoration of the chateau. At this time the structure was designated a French Historical Monument by the French Ministry of Culture.
With Philippe's abdication in 1848, the chateau once again changed hands with the government taking control of the fortress. In 1873 Chateau d' Amboise was returned to the heirs of Louis Philippe and a complete restoration of the building was begun. Unfortunately during World War II, the chateau suffered yet more damage during the German invasion and occupation. Following the war restoration efforts once again began, and today the Saint-Louis Foundation maintains the chateau and is responsible for its upkeep.
A Little History on Chateau Amboise
Visiting Chateau Amboise
Due to its position above Amboise on a bluff, visitors will have to walk up the long ramp to gain access to the chateau. Because Chateau d’ Amboise is a medieval fortress it does not have modern handicap access facilities. Should you require assistance accessing the grounds please contact the ticket office as they do have new facilities and services policy to assist visitors.
After going through the ticket office you will exit out into the grounds of the chateau and it is here that you will first realize the true magnificence of this grand chateau. The fully restored castle stands in all its glory looking out over the Loire Valley with the colorful flags of French Royalty fluttering in the wind.
As you make your way along the outer wall take time to admire the view of the French countryside, the rooftops of Amboise, and the River Loire. The grounds are extensive and in addition to the chateau, there are the beautiful terraced gardens of Amboise and the Chapel of Saint-Hubert where Leonardo da Vinci is buried. King Francois I invited the aging da Vinci to Amboise in early 1516 and he spent the last three years of his life at the nearby Clos Luce manor house.
Did you know that the great Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci was buried here at Chateau d'Amboise?
Knowledge of the past and of the places of the earth is the ornament and food of the mind of man.— Leonardo da Vinci
The chateau that visitors see today is the result of numerous restorations over many centuries. In all likelihood the chateau is a fraction of its original size but still presents an imposing figure overlooking Amboise.
Your tour through the chateau will highlight its collection of Renaissance and Gothic furniture as you weave your way through the royal rooms including the Guard's Room, the Grand Council Chamber, the Drummer's Room, the Study, and the numerous bedrooms and apartments where many a king spent the night. There are a number of paintings of French Royalty and some interesting tapestries to be seen along the way. Your visitor's guide, which comes in many languages will explain the historical significance of each room and point out the artwork for you.
The self-guided tour eventually takes you to the top of the Minimes Tower, one of two spiral turrets, the other being the Heurtault Tower, and the pinnacle of your visit as the views from here out over the River Loire and the valley are spectacular. Guided tours are available should you desire and you can inquire at the ticket office upon your arrival.
After touring the chateau be sure to leave plenty of time to visit the gardens. While the interior of the chateau is certainly historical and must be seen, it is the exterior of the chateau from the numerous vantage points around the property that is truly exciting. Here you will discover a wonderful assortment of flora and the terraced garden landscape provides many wonderful photo opportunities of the castle.
While the chateau itself has seen centuries of renovation, historians are certain that the gardens seen today differ little from medieval times. Set amongst the garden is a statue that commemorates the spot where Leonardo da Vinci was originally buried prior to being moved to the Chapel of Saint-Hubert in 1871.
Chateau Royal d’Amboise
- BP 371
- F-37 403 Amboise Cedex
- Phone: +33/(0)2 47 57 00 98
- Fax: +33/(0)2 47 57 52 23
Open year round except closed on Christmas and New Years Day
- Peak season hours are 9am to 7pm.
- Off peak hours differ by month.
- Adult – 11.50 euro
- Student – 9.90 euro
- Child 7-18 – 7.70 euro
- Under age 7 free
Admission Fee + Audio:
- Adult – 15.50 euro
- Student – 13.90 euro
- Child – 10.70 euro
When touring this region of France you will have many choices when it comes to visiting the grand chateaux of the Loire Valley. Chateau Amboise is certainly one of the more interesting chateau's and its proximity just above Amboise allows visitors the opportunity to stroll through this charming French town that has wonderful cafes and shops of all types. The fact that Leonardo da Vinci is buried here also peaked our interest and it was fascinating to learn how he wound up here in France toward the end of his life. His residence while living here in Amboise is called Chateau du Clos Luce and is within walking distance.
I hope you enjoyed this brief tour of Chateau d'Amboise. In one day it is certainly possible to combine a visit to the chateau, a walk through the lovely town of Amboise, and a visit to the nearby Chateau Chenonceau, which is only twenty minutes away. It all adds up to a great day exploring the wonders of this fascinating region of France.
© 2015 Bill De Giulio