Amboise is quite beautiful but not very touristy like some other cities in the same Loire Valley area. Despite its laidback profile, many visitors from around the world still visit Amboise, especially in the peak season, to have the best of times in France. What mostly attract visitors is the historical connections to the French Royal Family, its link with Leonardo de Vinci, and its markets.
The town is also well known for being the base for discovering some of the other main chateaux that are located in the east of Tours like Chaumont, Chenonceau, Chambord, and Blois. Still, given the great conditions of the road network, visitors are not far away from these places anywhere in the region.
In the peak tourist period, the town dons a light show and spectacular sound, with hundreds of local volunteers jolting their history to life. While you might not understand all these, you will come to appreciate the spectacle.
>>Also Read: Is Loire Valley Worth Visiting?
Here Are A Few Things To Do That Make Amboise Worth Visiting
Appreciate the Amboise Chateau
This is the major attraction in Amboise. Situated on the top of a hill that looks over the rushing Loire River and the old houses, it is the ideal setting. Visitors are free to walk freely and explore Amboise, but it is better to start the day here as it is the highlight of the city. For a few euros, you can get into the whole chateau, fine grounds, and the chapel (Da Vinci’s burial site).
There is also a histopad that will take visitors back in time in an engaging way as they explore the chateau. This is one of the great handheld guides here, and it is affordable. Getting to the gate, you will be able to stroll at your pace and appreciate the grounds. Knowing that the chateau used to be bigger than this will make you appreciate it the more. There was a time it passed through a time of decay, particularly in the Revolution but has since been restored and is in good shape now.
On arriving inside, you are expected to learn where royalty lived, where the guards are based, ate, and entertained and get some terrific panoramic views of the Loire and the town beneath. With the histopad, it is quite a detailed walk-through (but not spectacular) as it leads visitors through the chateau’s rooms. Watch out for mini-towers in all of the rooms that have a QR code. For your histopad to take you on a virtual back in time, you will need to scan these.
Rendezvous With Nature at Chateau Gardens
Gazing at the Loire or admiring the chateau with its full green areas, take a deep breath and relax in the gardens. There are benches all over here with varying viewpoints of the city and the Loire. This is a great place to have a bite if you brought a snack.
See Where Da Vinci is Buried at the Chapel of Saint-Hubert
Despite the small size of the Chapel of Saint-Hubert, its significance is much. It is in this place that you will see Leonardo Da Vinci’s resting place. This chapel is situated on the Amboise Chateau grounds; therefore, you do not need to pay an additional cost to visit.
It is an interesting story as to how Da Vinci’s body got here. King Francis, I asked the painter to come and work for him. He accepted and arrived in the early 1500s but died a few years after. Da Vinci’s remains were initially excavated in another chapel, over 300 years after his death, and are now resting in the Chapel of Saint-Hubert. Step inside the chapel and be astonished by the stunning architecture and stained glass.
Step into Leonardo Da Vinci’s House at Château du Clos Lucé
Another chateau not to miss in Amboise is the Château du Clos Lucé. This is where Da Vinci lived and worked in his time in the city. While his home may not be attractive or as imposing as the royal Amboise Chateau, it is very much worth a visit. But, visiting two chateaus in a day and checking out the gardens of each one sounds exerting.
The downside to visiting here is the price, however. Prices can be too expensive for a smaller chateau. Still, it is all about the great Leonardo Da Vinci, so anything goes, I suppose. Meanwhile, as far as your itinerary in Amboise, I think if you have many days, you should pay a visit to both chateaus when you have the time.
In the case that you are left with just a single day in the town, I recommend that you make the difficult decision in choosing just a single chateau so you can be refreshed, and have the energy to explore the resplendent side streets and indulge in some delectable local treats.
Église Saint-Florentin (Saint Florentin Church of Amboise)
A much more laidback destination but still significant structure in Amboise is the Saint Florentin Church of Amboise. This sanctuary dates back to the 1400s. In the Second World War, it suffered damages and lost its stained glass windows. Even though the stained glass has no story, these works are absolutely beautiful. You should see them as they are a masterpiece. Saint Florentin Church of Amboise is located off the main street that courses toward the Amboise Chateau, close to the bridge.
Shop at the Amboise Sunday Market
Among locals and visitors, this market within the Loire Valley is a favorite. It features vendors dealing in everything from clothing to food to furniture. A lot of people do make a day of it and wrap it up with a picnic beside the river or tour of the previously mentioned chateaux. Given the market’s popularity, it is important to reach there early enough to beat the crowds.
Take the produce you need for the weekend or any time with freshly grown fruits and vegetables, buy fresh meat butchered that very morning, and savor pre-made cuisine that confirms that French street food is as great as anywhere else. Place du Marchee near the Loire River is where the market takes place. It is a big market and busy but totally worth experiencing.
Explore the Town of Amboise
Amboise is as alluring as its chateau of the same name. Given the town’s higher tourist traffic more than other small towns in the Loire Valley, it boasts of conveniences and novelties that others might lack. Here there are lots of cafes, bakeries, restaurants, stalls, and fun things to see and do. The chateau’s gardens also offer unmatchable panoramic views of the region. At the same time, the town’s streets will take visitors to another place at another time.
How to Get to Amboise
Amboise s along the river Loire, and it is one of the most beautiful places in France. The main towns close to it that are also worth visiting are Blois and Tour along the Loire River too. Interestingly, the town is accessible even from as far as Paris.
The easiest way to get there is by the train, barring strikes and protests. When you arrive in the town, it is about a 10-minute walk where you will cross the bridge over the Loire, and the chateau will be presented to you in its splendor. In the case that you are coming from Tours, Blois, Le Mans, and Paris, the train is the easiest means to reach Amboise as well.
>>Also Read: How to Get From Paris to Amboise
Alternatives to Trains
As earlier mentioned, the train is the fastest and easiest way to reach Amboise, except there are strikes that put movement in limbo. In the case of a holdup, you will have to use alternatives to getting to Amboise. Renting a car is great but could be expensive. There are many rental services to assist with this.
For those who stay in places like Blois or Tours that find trains to be costly (they seldom are), a cheaper option is the bicycle. You can rent a bike for the day, and the roads are friendly for that. At your own pace, ride along the Loire, which will be a fascinating trip on its own. You can even pull off at a chateau or two on the way. In Tours or Blois, there are many bike rental shops to choose from.
Is Amboise Worth Visiting? – Summary
Locals are friendly, and the food is fantastic. It is difficult not to like Amboise from its alluring personality to historical relevance to its welcoming nature. The town may have had a rough patch previously, but this alone proves the people’s resilience and tenacity. When a town leaves a mark on you this strong, it is hard not to fall in love with it.