Mainly built on the South bank of the Loire River, Amboise is an interesting historical and cultural city.
French history and especially Renaissance is one of the greatest features that contributes to the charming atmosphere of the city.
Here and there you will come accross some archictectural treasures like the Clock Gate, Saint-Denis Collegiate Church and the Canteloup Pagoda, together with half-timbered houses and old boutiques in the city center that brings us back 6 centuries earlier. Amboise is a showcase example of a royal city during Renaissance time.
However, the fame of the city mostly comes from its castles.
Boasting 2 royal castles and a third one where Leonardo da Vinci spent a few years at the end of his life, the city is a real Renaissance gem.
The original name of Amboise royal castle is the slightly forgotten and less-known Château-Gaillard, the first on which French Renaissance style gardens were invented.
It is also in the park of Château-Gaillard that was created the first botanical garden and the first royal orangerie in France!
As for the Royal castle of Amboise overlooking the city, it belonged to a nobleman that tried to stir up a conspiracy against the King of France. His castle was immediatealy seized by Charles VIII who quickly turned it into a real palace.
Thanks to its totally secure location, it soon became the national school and residence for Princes of France. This is the place where Charles VIII grew up and actually lost his life after banging his head on a lowstone lintel...oops! Louise de Savoie and King François I also studied in Amboise castle’s school.
King François I actually chose to stay there on a regular basis during his reign, especially when his dear friend Leonardo da Vinci came to live in the nearby castle of Clos Lucé. Legend has it that an underground passage between the two castles allowed both men to meet in secret.
After King François I’s reign, the French court came back to Paris. The Royal castle of Amboise declined and was even transformed for a while into a jail for French high-ranking dignitaries. Among prisoners, Nicolas Fouquet spent some time there after he was arrested for building Vaux-le-Vicomte Castle, thus making Louis XIV jealous and angry....
Last but not least, do not forget that Amboise city is located very close to the most visited private monument in France: Chenonceau Castle.
Today, Amboise is still very attractive with the hustling and bustling of its old winding streets, the river front promenade and its great food market, considered French’s favourite in 2015.
So take our advice and don’t miss this place!