Château d’Amboise & the Renaissance of French Monarchy (History & Travel Tips)

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As one of the main residences of French Royalty, Château d’Amboise is intrinsically linked to the history of France. It is one of the finest architectural marvels that you’ll ever come across. Brimming with romance and boasting a rich past, this castle sits comfortably on its ledge overlooking the town of Amboise and the River Loire. It provides great views for the tourists who visit it in hoards every year. Let’s take a look at its history and how it fares today:

Leonardo da Vinci’s first resting place was supposed to be in a small chapel located on the castle grounds. The chapel was demolished so the remains had to be moved to the nearby St. Hubert Chapel.

The beautiful panoramic view of Chateau d'Amboise from afar.
The beautiful panoramic view of Chateau d’Amboise from afar. chateau d’Amboise flickr photo by angelobrathot shared with no copyright restrictions using Creative Commons Public Domain Mark (PDM)

Frequently Asked Questions

FOR HISTORY | BEAUTIFUL IMAGES | INTERESTING FACTS | TRAVEL TIPS

Early History

The Counts of Anjou (9th Century Onwards)

The eminent history of Château d’Amboise can be traced back to when it was the site of a Gaelic fortress. It eventually went to Ingelgarious (a Frankish nobleman) who married Adelais, a woman belonging to a family of bishops and archbishops who were in possession of the Château at the time. 

Over the years, the castle passed down from one heir of their bloodline to another, until one of them (Fulk the Red) expanded the territory throughout the province of Anjou (thus the title: Counts of Anjou). He also made expansions to the castle’s architecture and his descendants continued to live there until it was captured by Charles VII after Louis d’Amboise was caught plotting treason.

An elevational and planuler look at the Château d’Amboise.
An elevational and planuler look at the Château d’Amboise.

Under French Rule (15th Century Onwards)

Charles VIII

Château d’Amboise became quite a favorite of the French royals once they came into possession of it. They made many architectural additions to it through the years, starting with Charles VIII adding Gothic and Renaissance-style ministrations to the elevation by hiring the finest builders. He even brought in Italian artisans, sculptors, painters, and architects to initiate the Italianate movement by having them tweak the architecture of the castle this way. Charles spent his life making the Château a true architectural marvel and even died in its service … by tragically hitting his head on the door lintel and falling into a coma.

A closer look at the gothic details of Château d’Amboise.
A closer look at the gothic details of Château d’Amboise. Château royal d’Amboise flickr photo by Nicolas Vollmer shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Louise XII

King Louis XII took it upon himself to continue Charles’ work when he succeeded. He initiated the construction of a gallery around the terrace built by Charles.

Francis I

Château d’Amboise was the home of Francis I, so when he became the King, the chateau thrived in all its glory. It was during his reign that Leonardo da Vinci came and stayed as a guest at the Chateau. Francis also commissioned Italian artists to decorate the interiors with beautiful paintings.

The beautiful ceiling structure of Château d'Amboise.
The beautiful ceiling structure of Château d’Amboise. Château d’Amboise flickr photo by KLMircea shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

The Amboise Conspiracy (1560)

One of the darkest periods in the history of Château d’Amboise was during the French Wars of Religion when it was discovered that the Protestants were plotting against Francois II. Around 1200 Protestants attacked the castle; the attempt was not successful due to poor organization. 

What followed was one of the bloodiest massacres in the history of the world. All the conspirators were brutally decapitated and even hung from the walls of the castle.

A portrait of King Francois II.
A portrait of King Francois II.

The Desolation of Château d’Amboise

The Château all but fell into ruin in the 17th century. It was also used as a prison, taking damage after the French Revolution. It was in such a desolate condition that military leader Napoleon Bonaparte commissioned an actual engineering assessment of its structure. Several parts of the chateau were demolished as a result.

Château d’Amboise was declared a historic monument in the nineteenth century and attempts were made to restore it to its former glory. However, everything was put on halt after King Louis-Philippe’s abdication.

The bedroom interior at Château d'Amboise..
The bedroom interior at Château d’Amboise. Château d’Amboise flickr photo by KLMircea shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

Current Times

Today, Château d’Amboise is still possessed by Louis-Philippe’s descendents. They promote the castle as a desirable tourist destination and work on its maintenance. The structure that we see today is five times smaller than the original, but even today, the intricate Gothic and Renaissance detailing of the château remains intact. 

History buffs would really appreciate the collection of gorgeous tapestries and renaissance furniture in the interior. One can tour the royal apartments inside. The gardens are always open for a visit. 

A look at the grounds of the Château d’Amboise.
A look at the grounds of the Château d’Amboise. Château d’Amboise flickr photo by SignorDeFazio shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

Interesting Château d’Amboise Facts

  • Leonardo da Vinci’s first resting place was supposed to be in a small chapel located on the castle grounds. The chapel was demolished so the remains had to be moved to the nearby St. Hubert Chapel.
  • One of the queens of Scotland, Mary Stuart, was supposed to marry Francois II She resided at Château d’Amboise for a while.
  • Nicolas Fouquet, the famous minister who fell out of favor, was held at the château while it was being used as a prison.
  • Algerian religious revolutionary Emir Abd al Qadir was also held at the château, where he was visited by Napoleon to announce his release.

Visiting Château d’Amboise – Tips and Tricks

As one of the key monuments of French history, Château d’Amboise is a must-visit for anyone who loves romance in architecture. Now’s a great time to plan a visit, and here are some helpful tips that will make things easier:

The beautiful Château d’Amboise view at night from across the river.
The beautiful Château d’Amboise view at night from across the river. Amboise (Indre-et-Loire) flickr photo by sybarite48 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

How to get to Château d’Amboise?

With the university town of Tours as your central point, there are four ways that you can travel to Château d’Amboise. First is via the train, it will cost you €4-€16 ($5-$19 USD), with a time frame of 35 minutes. You can also take the C bus, which will get you there in an hour for just €3.40 ($4 USD). A taxi ride might cost you €55-€68 ($65-$80 USD) and will get you there in just 23 minutes. Or you could take your own car with an overall cost of €2.50-$4 ($3-$5 USD).

Ticket Prices, Visiting Hours & Travel Tips

You can visit the château anywhere between 10 am to 6:30 pm during the months of June, July, and August. Visiting hours are reduced for the rest of the year.

Ticket prices for Château d’Amboise vary from age to age. For adults, it’s €13.10 ($16 USD) and for children above 6, it costs €9 ($11 USD). Kids below 6 can enter free of cost.

The side structure view of Chateau d'Amboise with the symbolic flag and its green surroundings.
The side structure view of Chateau d’Amboise. Château d’Amboise flickr photo by Julien Maury shared with no copyright restrictions using Creative Commons Public Domain Mark (PDM)

How Long Will It Take to Tour Around?

It can take you anywhere between an hour or two to leisurely explore Château d’Amboise.

Some words of advice and tips: 

  • Don’t forget to enjoy the views of the city atop the ledge while strolling through the gardens.
  • If you’re visiting with family, you can even set up a picnic overlooking the views of the city.
  • If you get hungry or thirsty, there’s a little coffee shop there for your convenience.

Quick Video Tour of The Main Château d’Amboise Areas

Zunaira Ghazal
Zunaira Ghazal
Zunaira is an architect and designer on paper, but a writer at heart. She’s got a Bachelors in Architecture and a passion for traveling, both of which combine in her writings about timeworn castles and fortresses that have withstood the tests of time and stand proud to this day.

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