Wednesday, September 14, 2016

France: 11 Reasons Why You Should Visit the Royal Château of Amboise, Loire Valley

A fan of French Chateau like me? Then you should never miss the Royal Chateau of Amboise, rising elegantly above the bank of the Loire River. Here are 11 reasons in BOLD, why you should jump on a train to Amboise. 
Royal Chateau of Amboise
       There is a 10 minutes walk from the Amboise SNCF train station to the Chateau. Standing on the bridge constructed over the idling Loire River, we took a few minutes to marvel at the magnificent view of the Royal Chateau built on a spur above the town and also its reflection on the water
Royal Chateau of Amboise

       Recognized as the first Renaissance chateau built in the Loire Valley, Chateau d'Amboise was constructed upon the order of Kings Charles VIII, Louis XII and Francis I between the 15th and 16th centuries. Now, it was registered as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. A visit to the royal apartments offers an eye-opening chance to witness the harmonious blend of 2 supposedly-contradicting elements in architecture and interior design: Gothic medieval and elegant Renaissance. 
Amboise Chateau Royal
Amboise Chateau Royal
Amboise Chateau Royal

       The balcony located just steps away from the entrance of the chateau offer one of the most remarkable panoramas of the Loire valley. Admiring the sight, you will definitely feel an urge to find out more about the history of the chateau. Hence, it is advisable to pick up an audio guide on your way in, in order to fully understand what you are looking at (instead of roaming blindly.) 
       I won't explain the story of the chateau here but I would like to tell you one of the most terrifying facts I've learned through the audioguide about this balcony: during the Wars of Religion, about 1,200 protestants were disemboweled and hung from the railings, exactly where I was standing! And since that, the balcony has been known as the Balcony of the Conspirators. See the importance of an audioguide? I bet! 
 Balcony of the Conspirators
Loire River
Balcony of the conspirators

       The visit involves a lot of walking and stairs climbing, but those who successfully overcome it will be rewarded with detailed behind-the-scenes moments of the Royal court's daily life. Over the century, the Chateau had welcomed a list of big names for example Notably Leonardo da Vinci, Mary Queen of Scots, the King of Spain Philippe V and many other. We wandered around to find out how the former residents and guests left their imprint in the Chateau ground... Last but not least, I urge you to go up to the castle rampart to enjoy the unobstructed vista of the valley.
castle of amboise
town of amboise

       The landscaped garden of Chateau d'Amboise is one of a kind. It was designed by Italian landscape designer Pacello da Mercogliano, whom King Charles brought back to France following the Italian War of 1494–1495. With Cypresses, green oak trees, bay trees and various flora abundant, the garden providing maximum shades is a perfect spot for a light picnic. Just be sure not to leave any rubbish behind! 
Amboise Chateau
Chateau d'Amboise
Jardin Chateau d'Amboise

       In the Oriental Gardens redesigned as a tribute to a prisoner of the Chateau (1848-1852), Algerian religious and military leader Abdelkader El Djezairi, we found a tomb encrypted with Arabic words.
Abdelkader El Djezairi

       For the fellow art buffs out there, you might be surprised that Leonardo Da Vinci was buried within the ground of the Chateau. Following his death in Close Lúce on the 2nd of May 1519, the French King buried him in the collegiate church of Saint-Florentin according to his will. However, Da Vinci’s body disappeared after the collegiate church of St. Florentin was pulled down in the early 19th century. It was then rediscovered in 1863 and today, people stop at Saint-Hubert chapel at the chateau, the final resting place of Leonardo Da Vinci, to pay their respect to the great Renascence man. 
Leonardo da Vinci resting place
Saint-Hubert chapel

       Not just that, some of Leonardo Da Vinci's works are also displayed in the Chateau ground. For example, this (photo below). Sadly I didn't manage to see a lot during my visit in early July as the site was not opened to public yet. 
If you are interested in Leonardo da Vinci's work, you should visit Clos Lúce, just 500m away. 
Leonardo da Vinci Amboise

       All in all, although only one-fifth of the original chateau remains after a member of the Directory government used it as a stone quarry, it is still a highly interesting and educational attraction, especially for history and art buff. I enjoyed my visit a lot and I hope everyone would enjoy it as much as I do.  

1. If you happen to visit the chateau on Wednesday or Saturday in Summer (July-August), stay for the historical evening show and take a stroll in the beautifully illuminated garden.  
2.  There is no need to wait in the line at the ticket office. You can buy the ticket online here

Amboise, France
Amboise, France
Royal Palace of Amboise, France
Chateau of Loire Valley
Chateau of Loire Valley

Going to France? 

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Thank You for Reading! 
Miss Happy Feet was a guest of Loire Valley and Touraine Tourism Board. However, all photos and opinion are as always, my own. 
Are you inspired to visit Amboise? Feel free to share your thoughts with me by commenting below!

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