Amboise and Chenonceau, superb testimonies to the Renaissance.
When the French kings returned to Loire Valley from the Italian wars in the 15th and 16th centuries, they came back with more than just their glorious military success: enthralled by what they discovered in Milan and Naples, they brought back with them, above all else, the dream of a new art of living.
It was in the Loire Valley, and in Amboise in particular, that this thirst for change would materialise. Abandoning their dark, defensive fortresses, the kings built magnificent buildings and beautiful gardens here, such as the châteaux of Amboise and Clos Lucé (Leonardo da Vinci’s final resting place, next to King Francis I) with their delicate stonework, the vast Choiseul estate and its astonishing pagoda and the estate of Château Gaillard. Discovering these ancient seats of power and festivity now steeped in history will be an undeniable highlight of your stay in the Loire Valley.
Also note that you can tour the town of Amboise with a guide from the tourist office.
Sweetness and delight from Amboise
In the little town of Amboise which is visited by people from all over the world and where you can hear every language being spoken, you’ll also enjoy the delightful streets full of shops and the quays which are covered every Sunday by one of the largest markets in the region. Tuck into a speciality of the Bigot Chocolate factory, which has been there since 1913, and pick up a lovely bottle of wine in the Caves Ambacia. Another visit? The Conservatoire de la Confiserie!
On leaving Amboise and its numerous hotels (you can rent a bike for a return-trip on a branch of the Loire by bike), the next stop has to be the jewel in the crown, Chenonceau. Known as the Château des Dames or the Ladies’ Château, it is always delicately scented both outside and inside and gracefully spans the River Cher, on which you can navigate with La Bélandre or Canoë Company. To contemplate the whole landscape, including the garden of Diane and the garden of Catherine de Medici, choose a flight in a hot air balloon or an helicopter!
Also make time to visit the delightful and very Italian Château de Valmer gardens and find out about the family history told so well by the Château de Montpoupon and its splendid landscaped setting. For a family day out, why not visit the Beaumarchais Wildlife Park, the Grand Aquarium de Touraine or the Mini-châteaux Park?
Visit Amboise and Chenonceau – Evening attire
Great evening shows await you at Amboise in the Loire Valley. One of them is the ‘Amboise Prophecy’, presented all summer long on the terraces of the Royal Château of Amboise. Others are also regularly held in the grounds of Clos Lucé. At Chenonceau, it’s a glittering gourmet ‘Tasting under the stars’ that awaits you in the height of summer.