Amboise, city of Kings

The center of Amboise is dominated by a huge chateau—Le Chateau des Roi, the summer home of French kings from 1434 to 1560. It towers above the city, its ramparts rising at least 120 feet above the street lined with cafes. The gardens and grounds stretch away from the river atop cliffs of tufe for close to a mile. Many of the houses below are partially built into the rock, with habitation in the original caves dating back to the middle ages or before.


View up the main street, Rue de Victor Hugo.


The chateau’s ramparts tower above the street.

The narrow streets are lined with white stucco homes trimmed with brick, timber and stone. Lace curtains of all designs hang in the windows. Others are shuttered against the heat of the day. Just down the hill a ways from our gite we discover a tiny cafe, “the Maitre d’Arte” named after Leonardo Da Vinci, who spent his last three years in Amboise as a guest of King Francis I. The cafe sits opposite Close Lucé, the chateau that housed Da Vinci. Our first morning at the cafe we met Jean-Luc, a history teacher and cyclist who lives in Amboise.  We spent the next few hours feasting on Crepes, yogurt, peach jam, crusty bread, and plenty of café creme, all the while chatting about bikes, travel, and education in France and the US.


Its a steep ride down the narrow streets. Cars, bikes and pedestrians compete for the right of way.


Its very hot in Amboise, so we spend the afternoon reading and painting in the cool of our little site. About 6pm we set off for a ride on the Boucle (Loop) that takes us past the Chateau and over the bridge to the north of the river and the countryside beyond.



The ride, on small lanes, goes through tiny villages and vineyards, the evening light making it all the more spectacular. We come to a series of locks in a small stream, a perfect place to stop for a snack. A draft horse grazes in the field in the old farm nearby, paying very little attention to us.



This needs to be a painting!!


I love the long shadows as the sun moves lower in the sky!

Crossing the river on our return the Chateau glows golden in the evening light above the cool blues and green of the river and trees. It is 9:30, still light out, but the cafes are winding down.


Crossing the bridge across the Loire at around 9:30pm, its still not dark. The sky is finally dark around 10-10:30 in July!


The Rue National is filled with people and vendors during the day, but at night all is quiet.

The heat of the day has given away to a cool and breezy night, perfect for sleeping. After a walk around the city in the twilight, we enjoy a dinner of bread, local cheese and “jambon cru, sausisson & spianata piquante” sitting under the stars at our gite.

4 thoughts on “Amboise, city of Kings

  1. Pat Neves

    Hi Diane and Gerry! So beautiful….can’t wait to see your trip inspired paintings. Safe travels and have a glass of wine and some cheese for me!

  2. Susan Pasternack

    Thank you so much for continuing to include me in your mailing list. At this point in my life, I am trying to downsize my work a bit and your travels inspire me to do so and think about what wonderful adventures might await. I am living vicariously through you both and that is fine, for now! Those smiles are priceless!
    Susan P.

    1. Diane Reed Sawyer Post author

      Susan, I am so happy you’re enjoying the blog. We sent you a belated birthday postcard from France. I hope you got it, and I hope you get a chance to visit again soon!


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