Loire Valley must-see: Leonardo da Vinci’s final home

If you’ve looked at my webpage for The Daughter’s Promise, you’ll know that I love the Loire Valley in France. I’m also a big fan of Leonardo da Vinci, the ultimate Renaissance Man and perhaps the most brilliant, multi-talented person ever born. (Incidentally, he was the illegitimate son of a peasant woman – a useful fact to throw at anyone who stands in the way of equal educational opportunities for all.)

Leonardo da Vinci spent the last three years of his life in Amboise in the Loire Valley, so you can imagine how thrilled we were to visit his home, the Château du Clos Lucé (https://vinci-closluce.com/en), on our last trip to France. The house and grounds are lovely in their own right, but it is the Leonardo connection that makes this an exceptional experience.

He is best known as the creator of the Mona Lisa and other great paintings and sculptures. But he was also a brilliant naturalist, scientist, engineer and inventor. Many drawings, inventions, workshop equipment and personal items are displayed inside the château, while larger reconstructions of his inventions dot the grounds. Some of the highlights include his famous flying machines, from the bird-inspired glider to the helicopter-like aerial screw; his clever engineering ideas, such as the transportable, revolving bridge and water-powered devices; and his advanced weaponry, including a multi-barrelled canon and armoured tank.

Leonardo da Vinci is buried in the stunning Château d’Amboise, just down the road (https://chateau-amboise.com/en/). If you are visiting the Loire Valley, Amboise makes a great base, as the town is beautiful and conveniently situated on the Loire River, with a train station nearby. The châteaux are walking distance from the centre, with other châteaux nearby (don’t miss the stunning Château de Chenonceau). Drop in to Bigot for a delicious omelette or pastries (https://maison-bigot-amboise.com/) – they saved us by serving us after the kitchen had closed, when we arrived cold and bedraggled!

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