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Amboise Travel Guide
Amboise Castle, Centre (© risquemo - Fotolia.com)
Amboise Castle.

Introduction

The small market town of Amboise (pop. 12,000) grew in the Frankish period as one of the seats of the Counts of Anjou, then of the powerful House of Amboise.

Amboise is famous for its castle, a royal residence that played a pioneering role in the development of French Renaissance architecture.

Amboise Castle

Amboise Castle originally a medieval fortress built on the site of an ancient Celtic oppidum, and expanded many times over the centuries.

In 1434, after Louis of Amboise was convicted of plotting against the king, the castle was seized by Charles VII and became one of the royal residences - along with Blois, Fontainebleau and Saint-Germain-en-Laye.

Favourite residences of many French monarchs from Louis XI to Francis I, Amboise was extensively rebuilt by Charles VIII in the Flamboyant Gothic style from 1492. Two Italian architects, Domenico da Cortona and Fra Giocondo, introduced the first Renaissance decorative motifs seen in French architecture.

Following the Italian War of 1494–1495, Charles VII brought more architects from Italy (including Pacello da Mercogliano) and transformed Amboise in the first Italianate palace in France. Charles died at Château d'Amboise in 1498 after he hit his head on a door lintel.



Amboise Castle, Centre (© Aleksey Trefilov - Fotolia.com)
Amboise Castle at night.

King Francis I was raised at Amboise, which belonged to his mother, Louise of Savoy. Leonardo da Vinci was invited by the king to Amboise Castle in December 1515 and lived and worked in the nearby Clos Lucé, connected to the château by an underground passage. Leonardo died in Amboise on 2nd May 1519 and was buried in the Chapel of Saint-Hubert inside the castle.

Opening Hours & Admission

Amboise Castle is open all year round except on 25th December and 1st January. From 15th November to 28th February, the ticket office is open from 9:00 am to 12:30 pm and from 2:00 pm to 4:45 pm. The rest of the year, it is open continously from 9:00 am until 5:30 pm (in March and first two weeks of November), until 6:00 pm (Sept. & Oct.), until 6:30 pm (April to June), or until 7:00 pm (July & August).

Admission is 10.2 € for adults, 8.5 € for students, 7 € for children aged 7 to 18, and free under 7 years old. The audioguide costs an additional 4 € (3 € for children).

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