Amboise, France

Monday, November 7, 2016

Set on the widest portion of the Loire river, our first stop in the valley was Amboise. It's an inviting, charming town with a hilltop chateau and a fun old town. During the 1500s, Amboise served as the royal residence of François I. 
Les Vieux Ponts connects the town with the Ile d'Or, the only island in the Loire with permanent buildings on it.

Half-timber with brick and flowers.
Ruler to measure the water level. | Fox in front of a cool door.

From across the river we looked back towards the Chateau Royal d'Amboise. Built in the late 1400s, it was home to the likes of Charles VIII and Louis XII.

Homes on the Ile d'Or.

The heart of town is a lovely pedestrian area. In the 15th century, this was the Champs-Elysees of Amboise as the town spread out from the foot of the castle.

The Loire is the last "untamed" river in France with no dams and no mechanisms to control periodic flooding. The region's many famous Chateaux line up along this river and its tributaries because before modern transportation methods, large stones to build such places were best moved by boat. 
 Which way is which?

The Church of St. Denis stands on a site that was once a temple to Mars in ancient Roman times. According to local legend, God sent a bolt of lightning that destroyed the statue of Mars and Christians then took over the spot.
The current Romanesque church was built in the 12th century.

Back down into the heart of town we wandered along the Rue Nationale.

The impressive Tour de l'Horloge clocktower dates from the 15th century and is built into a section of the town wall that once fortified the city.
We stopped in at the famous Bigot ("Bee-go") chocolate shop and bakery to try the region's specialty: tarte tatine. It's basically a fancy, delicious apple pie.
The walls surrounding the chateau and the chapel.

The golden hour!

One of the most interesting things about Amboise is that it is where Leonardo da Vinci spent his last years. In 1516, François I brought the Renaissance to France by inviting Leonardo to come and live with his court and serve as his engineer, architect, and painter. We drove up to see the plush palace where Leonard lived until he died in 1519.
 Our family in Amboise, France on Tuesday October 25th 2016.
The next morning we went to two chateaux!


  1. Thanks for the grande tour. I haven't seen the chateaux country. On our one pass through Bordeaux the driver was disgusted that the students did not want to drive off the main highway to see them. They voted overwhelmingly to push on to Gay Pairee


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