Amboise, Loire Valley: tourism & sightseeing

Photo of Amboise in Indre-et-Loire

Visit Amboise (Loire Valley, France)

PHOTO GALLERY MAP & PLACES TO VISIT

The town of Amboise is on the banks of the Loire river, between Blois and Tours and in the heart of the 'chateaux region' of the Loire Valley. Amboise has received the classification of a protected Historic Town in France.

Exploring Amboise

France This Way comment: although it is small, Amboise has an attractive historical centre as well as two of the most important historic monuments in the region: the Chateau d'Amboise and the Maison du Clos Lucé, better known as Leonardo da Vinci's House, and a visit is highly recommended.

There is a large car park next to the river a short distance west of the town centre, although the town seem to have forgotten to add signposts - turn right when you cross the bridge across the river! Near the car park you will notice a modern art statue and fountain, the Max Ernst fountain: the Amboise Tourist Office is almost opposite this statue and can provide you with a town map showing all the highlights.

Town centre in Amboise

Your visit to Amboise will start in the main central square which occupies a large part of the centre of the town, and has the castle to one side and various shops and cafes on the other side. Several of these shops and cafes are established in interesting half-timbered medieval houses and there are also numerous renaissance style houses in the white stone of the region.

Before rushing to see the two principal attractions (the chateau and Leonardo's house) allow time to stroll through the historical quarter of Amboise, to the south-west of this central square. One of the principal monuments of interest here is the 15th century clocktower, which is built above one of the original stone gateways originally built as part of the town's defences.

You can also see the 15th century Church of Saint-Florentin just below the castle. This church was built by King Louis XI because he was concerned he might become infected by epidemics if he went to the main church in the town (the original church has now disappeared). Opposite the church, the museum in Hotel Morin tells the history of the town: the manor was built in the early 16th century and had various uses such as prison and administration centre before becoming a museum.

Towards the east of the centre (towards Clos Lucé), on Rue Victor Hugo and in the cliffs below the castle, you can see some ancient troglodyte houses built into the cliffs. If you follow the path up the hill behind here (or Rue Leonard Perrault in front of Clos Lucé) you reach a viewpoint across Amboise: you should certainly come here if you are not going into the castle, which also has similar views.

Chateau d'Amboise

The castle in Amboise dominates most of the town centre and is one of the main attractions for visitors. Entrance to the castle is up a flight of stairs from the central square, and visitors can enjoy the terraces and gardens as well as admiring the royal apartments. Chateau d'Amboise is one of our favourite Loire castles.

It was built for King Charles VII in the 15th century, on the site of an earlier castle. From the end of the 15th century to the second half of the 16th century the castle played host to many important Kings and nobles before falling into decline with the Wars of Religion.

See more information at Chateau d'Amboise.

Chateau de Clos-Lucé

A short walk outside the main centre of Amboise there is another monument that is very interesting to visit. The Chateau de Clos-Lucé is best known as being the house where Leonardo da Vinci was invited to live by King Francois I - Leonardo lived here from 1516 to the time of his death in 1519.

Although it is the association with da Vinci that is the main theme of a visit to the house, the house and gardens would be very interesting even without this association. In the substantial brick manor house you can see several rooms carefully furnished as they were at the time of Leonardo, as well as recreations of several of his most imaginative inventions and also the extensive gardens and parkland that surround the house.

See more information at Chateau de Clos Lucé.

Domaine Royal de Château Gaillard et les Jardins du Roi

Close to Clos-Lucé you can visit the Royal Domaine of Chateau Gaillard. This is a small castle in the renaissance style built by Charles VIII after he had lived in Italy, and incorporating many Italian elements. He also brought a famous Italian gardener from Italy to designe the gardens, and the Gardens of the King were the first renaissance style gardens in France.

In recent years the castle and gardens have been carefully restored to their original design and you can also see the first orangery to be built in France.

See more information at Domaine Royal of Château Gaillard.

Other attractions in Amboise

The Loire river is just a few metres outside the north end of the main square. We recommend you stroll a short distance along the river banks and also across the bridge in the centre of Amboise, which allows some of the best views to the town and castle, and also along the river itself.

If you continue to the west end of Rue Nationale from the belltower you can see the Church of Saint-Dennis. This church was built in the 12th century and retains many of its romanesque elements, such as the main entrance, although the tower was rebuilt in the 18th century. Return towards the town along Rue Rabelais and turn right along Rue Belle Poule: from the end of this street you have another exceptional view across the rooftops and monuments of Amboise.

On the edge of Amboise you can visit the Chanteloup Pagoda, an impressive pagoda of six levels and 44 metres high. This pagoda is almost all that remains of a grand castle that stood here until the 18th century. The castle of Chanteloup itself was seized during the revolution, then remained empty for many years. No buyer could be found, and the castle was sold to a local demolition company who used the materials from the castle elsewhere.

If you are able to visit on a Friday or Sunday morning you will also enjoy looking around the popular market in Amboise.

Attractions nearby

As well as the many attractions in the town, Amboise is well placed to explore several other important destinations in the Loire Valley including the towns of Blois (to the north-east) and Tours (to the west).

Chateaux nearby include the Chateau de Chaumont at Chaumont-sur-Loire and the Chateau de Chenonceau to the south of Amboise.

You can find more local travel ideas in the Indre-et-Loire guide and the Loire Valley guide.

See also:

Map of Amboise and places to visit

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Visit near Amboise with France This Way reviews

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Tourist classifications

Amboise is classified as a historical protected town centre' (secteur sauvegardé)

Address: Amboise, Tours, Indre-et-Loire, Loire Valley, 37400, France || GPS: latitude 47.404167, longitude 0.98

Plan your visit to Amboise, Loire Valley

Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby

  • Aquarium du Val-de-Loire: aquarium (5km)
  • Parc et jardins du château de Valmer: remarkable garden (10km)
  • Parc et jardins du château de Chenonceau: remarkable garden (11km)
  • Réserve de Beaumarchais: zoo or wildlife park (13km)
  • Domaine régional de Chaumont-sur-Loire: remarkable garden (17km)
  • Le jardin des Prébendes d'Oé: remarkable garden (22km)
  • Tours: town of art and history (22km)
  • Cloisters of la Psalette: national monument (22km)
  • Saint-Cyr-sur-Loire: ville fleurie 4* (24km)
  • Les jardins du prieuré de Saint-Cosme: remarkable garden (24km)

Market days in Amboise, France

Regular market(s) are held in Amboise each Sunday & Friday. (Markets are held in the morning unless stated.)

The French version of this page is at Amboise (Francais)