“Here Leonardo, you will be free to dream, to think and to work.”The kings of Loire Valley had been looking up to Italy for it’s Renaissance ideas. To further incorporate renaissance into French life, inviting the Italian renaissance man seemed to be the best idea, and King François I did just that.
When Da Vinci arrived at Amboise at age 64, he moved into Manor du Cloux, a pink house elegantly erected in bricks and tuffeau stones, 500 meters from the Royal Chateau of Amboise (some say the two was connected by a secret underground tunnel), where he spent the last 3 years of his life receiving a rich pension of seven hundred gold ecus.
Crossing the Alps by a mule, Da Vinci left Italy with 3 of his most successful works: “St. John the Baptist”, “the Virgin and the Child with St Anne” and “Mona Lisa”. This explains why the world most famous painting from the Italian master ended up in Louvre Museum, continuously charming visitors with her enigmatic smile. ( Oh by the way, if you are thinking of visiting Louvre just for the sake of Mona Lisa, you'll be thrilled to find out that one can see Mona Lisa here, in Leonardo da Vinci's own house, without extra cost.)
The rooms in Clos Lúce (including the bedroom, walkways, dining space, kitchen) was carefully restored to give visitors an idea of how Leonardo da Vinci's life has been back then. I was thrilled when informed that Da Vinci's workshops previously closed to the public were recently unveiled and they were welcoming visitors starting from 2016. How lucky was I! There are 3 rooms located on the ground floor, restored with incredible accuracy to showcase the true working environment of this visionary artist.
In a dark room right next to the workshop, I was caught off guard by the ghost of Leonardo da Vinci.... don't worry, that was no paranormal activity. It was a spectacular audiovisual production that uses “ghost technology” to create an immersive encounter with Leonardo da Vinci. Here, visitors will be greeted by the life-size hologram of Da Vinci once they walk past the door! What a creative touch!
"In each room, the décor has been recreated with incredible attention to detail: original frescoes repainted in pigments used during the Renaissance, furniture produced from plans from the era and stained glass with small circular panels that bathe the rooms in the captivating atmosphere of shadow and light beloved by the Master." -- Chateau de Clos Lúce press kit 2016
Wandering the courtyard, it is not hard for anyone to figure out why he was appointed "First Painter, Engineer, and Architect to the King”. In 3 short years, with a mild paralysis in his hand, Leonardo da Vinci lavished inventions after inventions for the royal court. While most of Leonardo da Vinci’s great inventions were stuck in his sketchbook after his death, the staff at Château du Clos Lucé are doing their best to bring those ideas to life. Today, 20 life-size extraordinary machines dotted all over Jardin de Léonard (Leonardo's Garden), inviting visitors to interact with Leonardo's genius ideas. I recommend everyone to spend at least 2 hours in order to fully appreciate this 2.5-acre open-air museum... don't rush it, bring out the kid in you and have fun testing out the helicopter, paddle boat, turning bridge and other full-scale models. There are also 8 terminals and 32 translucent canvasses installed in the park, allowing visitors to hear Da Vinci's thoughts, learn about his sources of inspiration, and get a better insight into his universe.
The basement of Château of Clos Lucé houses 40 models in reduced scales and 6 3D animations showcasing Da Vinci’s inventions. Going into the room is like stepping into the master's mind, a little bit eerie at the same time so awe-inspiring. Here visitors can see how Da Vinci foresaw the creation of airplane, car, parachute and many more. I knew it all along that Leonardo da Vinci was indeed a genius, but for a person to see so much ahead of time, he must be something else that even the scientists and historians couldn't figure out, perhaps a time traveler? Well, looking at all the prototypes he invented, a time machine wouldn't seem too far-fetched, isn't it? It set me thinking about all the impossible that could be made possible by us human being.
There, I've listed down 10 reasons in BOLD on why you should never overlook Chateau du Clos Luce during your visit to Amboise. I cannot recommend Chateau du Clos Lúce enough for visitors of all ages. In fact, I am already planning to bring my kids here... oh wait a minute, will I even get married?
1. If you happen to visit the chateau on in Summer, you will be able to take a stroll in the beautifully illuminated garden at night.
2. The museum is closed on December 25th and January 1st.
3. Park Leonardo da Vinci is only opened from March to November.
4. There is student price so don't forget to flash your student cards! Other than that, free access is granted to children under 6 and disabled person.
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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 Clos Lúce? Feel free to share your thoughts with me by commenting below!