Amboise: Da Vinci’s Home in the Loire Valley

After visiting Château de Chambord, we made our way to the town of Amboise, where we would spend two nights. As we rode into town, we caught glimpses of the Amboise skyline set against the backdrop of bright blue skies and puffy clouds – a fittingly postcard perfect introduction to one very lovely town.

One of Amboise’s clear highlights is Clos Lucé, home to Leonardo da Vinci for the last three years of his life. The grounds at Clos Lucé are fascinating, as they are filled with models and replicas of da Vinci’s many inventions. Several of the models are also interactive, with wheels and cranks that you can operate. The beautiful woods of Clos Lucé also contain bridges that are based on da Vinci’s designs. The entire area really reinforces what a brilliant dude da Vinci was!

The other main thing about Amboise is that it is, quite simply, really really cute. It’s a pleasant little town, and wandering around was fun. The locals were also wonderful, from the boisterous bachelor party we encountered to the shop owners I chatted with. At one store selling lace sachets, I told the shopowner the sachets were “très jolie,” and she completely lit up. We had a nice conversation in mixed English and French – I did the best I could with my French! – and it was such a fun interaction.

In Amboise, we also enjoyed one of our very favorite meals of the trip, dinner at L’Alliance. The restaurant was tucked away, outside the tourist heart of town, making it feel quiet and local. As for the food? Fantastic! Or, fantastique, as the case may be. My chicken with crispy skin and giant hunks of sea salt was to die for, as was the mango mille-feuille I ordered for dessert.

On our last evening in Amboise, we walked to the river just in time to catch a really spectacular sunset. It felt like a fitting end to our time in this gem of a town.

The Bottom Line: Amboise makes a great homebase for exploring the chateaux of the Loire Valley. It’s also fun to visit in its own right, and Clos Lucé is not to be missed. Nor is the chicken at L’Alliance!

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