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Loire Valley Chateaux - Amboise

Chateau d'Amboise as seen from Ile d'Or

The dominant renaissance style of  Château d' Amboise in the Loire Valley, France, is there for all to see well before you even enter the town as its position high above the Loire river makes it obvious from quite a distance as you drive along the approach roads on the river bank.

Chateau d'Amboise walls looking on to the river Loire

The chateau was built on the foundations of an old fortress, its position perched high on a promontory over looking the Loire, offering a solid defence against any intruders. The chateau was seized by Charles VII in the mid 1400’s after its owner, Louise d’Amboise was involved in a plot against the monarchy. He was later to be pardoned but the chateau remained in the hands of the king.

Tower on the river facing wall of Chateau d'Amboise

In 1429 Joan of Arc passed through the town on her way to defeat the English at Orleans.

In the late fifteenth century, following his marriage to Anne of Brittany at Langeais, Charles VIII decided to turn the old castle of his childhood days into a luxurious palace but not long after the work was completed, Charles met his death here – not in the defence of his kingdom – but by banging his head on one of the many low doorways!

This is an interesting chateau, made more so by the excellent views over the town and the Loire River.

 The history of the château was marked  by three famous ladies, all of whom has a different room named after them: Joan of Arc, Anne of Brittany and Agnes Sorel, Charles VII's favourite mistress.


The history of Agnès Sorel would make a good plot for a soap opera. She was the first mistress of a French king to be officially recognized. She was, it is said, an extremely beautiful woman, as well as very intelligent. She wielded considerable influence over the king and his policies, which earned her a number of powerful enemies at court. She gave birth to three daughters - while pregnant with her fourth child, she joined Charles VII on a campaign against the English in 1450 in Normandy. Shortly afterwards, she fell ill and died (aged 28}. A lot of people believed she had been poisoned because of her sudden death and because of her numerous enemies. In 2005 French forensic scientist Philippe Charlier examined her remains and determined that the cause of death was mercury poisoning, but offered no opinion about whether she was murdered.


 During the 15th and 16th centuries it became a favourite of the French kings as a place to house their wives and children while they sought the company of their mistresses elsewhere. King Henry II and his wife, Catherine de Medici lived here along with Mary Stuart the child queen of Scotland, who had been promised to the future king Francois II. These were to be the glory years at the chateau prior to its decline and loss of favour with the Royals.

At the beginning of the 17th century, the chateau was all but abandoned when the property passed into the hands of  the brother of the King Louis XIII. After his death it returned to the Crown and was turned into a state prison. It then suffered at the hands of the Revolutionaries and  Emperor Napoleon.


Its restoration inside and out was begun by King Louis-Philippe during his reign but with his abdication in 1848, the château was confiscated by the government. There was a setback with damage during the second world war but restoration continued and in 1974 the Saint-Louis Foundation took over its administration and continued its restoration programme.

salon at Chateau d'Amboise  Daybed in salon at Chateau d'Amboise

Drawing room at Chateau d'Amboise  Bedroom at Chateau d'Amboise

Inside the chateau is sparsely furnished and like the outside, which is only about a fifth of its original size, as you pass through you have to use your imagination to conjure up visions of the royal court in residence.

  passageway at Chateau d'Amboise

 A new tour takes you through the underground passages and towers of the chateau. The chateau's spiral passageway allowed  both men and their horses to make the ascent/descent to the chateau.

Amboise renaissance spectacular

During peak tourist season the chateau puts on a spectacular sound and light show with hundreds (yes hundreds) of local volunteers bringing their history to life in all its pageantry and splendour entitled 'At the court of Francois I' - you might not comprehend all that is going on but you’ll certainly enjoy the spectacle! The show is about the history of the chateau as well as daily life and festivities at Amboise.

It is quite a polished spectacle beginning 10-10:30 PM and lasting 1-1/2 hours (may seem a little longer)No need for advanced booking.

Note: As the show is outside it can be cancelled because of the weather.


statue of Leonardo de Vinci at Amboise

Francois I spent his childhood at the chateau and when he succeeded to the throne, he lavished much of his social skills on Chateau d'Amboise.  He held frequent balls, feasts, tournaments and it was he who in 1516 invited Leonardo da Vinci to stay at the delightful 'Close-Luce', nearby with the promise of a pension, with the only requirement being that he devote some of his time to conversation and companionship.


 It is said that there is a secret tunnel from the chateau to the Manoir du Clos -Luce. Leonardo's remains now lie within the Chapel of Saint-Hubert within the grounds of the chateau.

Unguided Visits


You can explore the chateau and its gardens at your own pace with the help of a leaflet in :
English, French, German, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese,  Japanese, Polish, Russian, Hungarian, Czech,
Korean, Chinese and Romanian.

Adults (individuals) 11.70
Students  10.00 €
Children (from 7 to 14 years old) 7.80 €
Free under 7

Opening times 9.00am - 4.45pm


Back to Amboise

Amboise market

Amboise market

Amboise parking

Find a hotel in Amboise

Lowest rate guaranteed : No booking fees.


By car:
Driving from Paris take the A10 motorway (Paris-Bordeaux),  exit at junction 21 "Tours centre".

Driving from Tours, take N152 east to D32 and then turn south, following signs to Amboise, going along the banks of the Loire in the direction of Blois.


External links:

Tourist office amboise-valdeloire

Official website of town (French)

Chateau-Amboise official site



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