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Château de Amboise and Le Clos Luce

"Art is never finished, only abandoned." Leonardo da Vinci

overcast 17 °C

Wednesday morning we enjoyed a nice breakfast in the cottage and watched a little news on the satellite TV, since we were up so early because we had a full day ahead of us. One thing we noted was that, in France this year and in Scotland the previous year, other countries have a much more international flavor to their news, as opposed to the United States. In 30 minutes, we would see stories on France, Great Britain, Spain, Russia, Japan, China, Vietnam, Portugal and the U.S., instead of mostly French news and one or two pieces on other countries. It was really quite refreshing and reminded me that I should go back to watching BBC news when I'm home, to get a fuller picture of world news.

Every Wednesday in Loches is "Market Day", a tradition dating back to medieval times. In fact, all of the towns in the Loire Valley area have Market Days on various days of the week, but the Loches market day is the oldest, largest and most renowned. Area farmers, craftsmen (and women), bakers, wine makers and businesses all bring their wares and set up stalls that fill the center of the town and nearby smaller streets each Wednesday from 8am until 1pm.


And of course Cindy and her mom wanted to go to it.

As it turned out, I didn't mind because I had plans as well. We had lost Internet access at the cottage, so I was going to drop them at the market and take my laptop to a copy and printing business I had seen in town that advertised "Internet Access" to post my blog and check e-mail. Unfortunately, when I arrived the young lady on duty told me they no longer offered that service, even though a sign stating they did was plastered on their front window. So I had to go looking for Cindy and her mom in the mass of people at the market ahead of our pre-arranged meeting time. On the plus side, we had activated the "international roaming" feature on our cell phones for just this sort of possibility, so I simply called Cindy, found out where they were, and soon we were reunited.

After about 2 hours, we left to drive to Amboise, which was about 40 minutes away. The Château at Amboise was originally built in the 11th century and the surrounding land was expanded and added onto through the years. In 1434 it was seized by Charles VII after its owner had been convicted and executed for plotting against the King. In 1492 extensive rebuilding of the castle began, first in the French Gothic Flamboyant style and later in the Renaissance style.



The Château at Amboise is probably most famous as the childhood home and favored royal castle of King François I who was crowned King of France in 1515 and reigned until 1547. François I is considered to be France's first Renaissance monarch and it was during his reign that France made impressive cultural advances.

But Amboise, and the nearby (500 meters) manor house Clos Luce, are also famous as the places where Leonardo da Vinci spent the last 3 years of his life. In December 1516, da Vinci accepted François' invitation to live at Clos Luce free of charge in exchange for simply being available to talk to the King, who had a great interest in the arts, sciences and philosophy. Leonardo lived and worked at Clos Luce until his death on May 2, 1519.

Upon his death, da Vinci was buried in the church of Saint-Florentin, which was part of the Château Amboise. During the reign of Napoleon the church was in such a ruinous state that the engineer appointed by Napoleon had it dismantled and used some of the remaining stonework in remodeling Château Amboise. Some 60 years later, during excavation of the land where the church had stood, workers found a complete skeleton of a man along with pieces of stone which were inscribed with letters found in da Vinci's name. That skeleton was entombed in the Chapel of Saint-Hubert, which is next to Château de Amboise. Below are photos and a video of the chapel and his tomb.






Here is another view of Château de Amboise. Unfortunately, as in most castles, photo and video cameras are not permitted inside the castle. However, you'll see in the video clip after the photo, that I snuck a little shot inside later.


Château de Amboise is built on a small stone mountain, overlooking the Loire River. This shot is from the courtyard looking down river. You can see the bridge, which replaced the original ford, and observe how the small village grew up around the castle and crossed the Loire River.


Looking upriver in the background, with Cindy standing at the edge of a high castle turret.

A small memorial garden and statue to Leonardo da Vinci near the back of the castle grounds. History says that the King had an underground tunnel built in the mountain upon which Château de Amboise sits that ran from the castle to the manor house, Clos Luce, where da Vinci lived, and used it often to visit the Renaissance Man who had become his friend. Twenty years after his death, François was quoted as saying, "No man ever lived who had learned as much about sculpture, painting, and architecture, but still more that he was a very great philosopher."


Cindy and her mom on a turret on the opposite side of the castle which overlooked the main town of Amboise.



Here's a shot of the cafe across from the castle where we ate lunch before going to Clos Luce. The black arrow points to where we sat.


Rather than take the tunnel, lol, we walked the quarter mile to Clos Luce up this street.


The route we were taking ran parallel to the mountain that the castle sits upon. If you look closely, you can see past this entranceway to where a home was built into the side of the mountain..We saw several of these, some much older than others, along the way,


Here is Clos Luce, the manor house where Leonardo da Vinci lived the last years of his life. I could not get a good photo, so this is from a post card that I scanned and it allows you to see the entire front of the house. To the right you can see a portion of a hallway that is shown better in my next photo and the video clip below it, and there is another wing of the house behind what you can see in this first post card scan.



Again, no photos or videos allowed inside the house (and they even had cameras monitoring each room), but the house is full of da Vinci's notes, paintings and scale models of his inventions, as well as showing how he and his entourage lived while at Clos Luce. It was, for me anyway, awe-inspiring to walk through rooms he had walked in, touch walls and doors he had touched and stand in the study this great thinker and artist had worked in during the last days of his life.

You know how, on those psychological tests they give (I've taken WAY too many of them, lol) they always ask, "What person from history would you like to meet and talk to for an hour?". Well, ever since I was a young child, my answer has always been either Albert Einstein or Leonardo da Vinci. I stood in those rooms at Clos Luce and, in my mind's eye, watched him working and living and felt, in some small way, like I HAD been able to meet him.

500 years have passed since he lived, and we still view him and his genius with awe.

Here are two photos showing the other wing I mentioned above.



The gardens around Clos Luce are full of beautiful flowers. Here, Cindy and her mom admire some of the stunning roses.

Though the castle marathon is more for Cindy than for me, I absolutely enjoyed this tour of Château de Amboise and Clos Luce, and the insights it provided into the last years of da Vinci's life. Now, more than ever, I want to go to Florence and Milan in Italy to view his life and work there.

Next post: Château de Chambord

Posted by WorldQuest 19:20 Archived in France Tagged tourist_sites

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great work on the video and photos Jeff. You keep a much much better journal than I would have. Thanks Mom

by Kimsota

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