Got off the train in Amboise in a steady rain, and had to walk about a km to the other side of the river to our hotel Bellevue, where we felt we were treated with some disdain: a couple of bedraggled backpackers dripping on their lobby floor! We were pretty chilled, but discovered the heat didn’t get turned on until 6 pm. The room had a great view of the castle right from the foot of the walls but was chilly! So we changed into drier clothes, waited for the rain to let up, then set out to walk around town. Got our bearings and previewed the route to the Clos Luce, alternate royal residence, where Leonardo da Vinci spent the last 3 years of his life as a guest of Francois I. We decided we’d spend our one day in Amboise visiting Clos Luce rather than the main chateau (impressive as it is from the outside).
I woke early next morning, and walked back to the train station to check the day’s schedule, which they post one day at a time during this strike. Returned across the Loire River just at sunrise, with a full moon still hanging in the western sky, mist rising off the water, and herons silently stalking the shallows. Of course, the impressive royal chateau dominating the skyline of the whole town… beautiful!
We spent most of the day at Clos Luce, discovering what a genius Leonardo was! (I already knew he was an exceptional artist and way ahead of his time in designing a theoretical helicopter, but I didn’t know many of the very practical inventions he is credited with.) Who knew , for example, that he had invented the life-saving ring? Also the paddle boat, the bicycle, a kind of tank, various water pumps, the swivel bridge, … The guy was an engineering genius. So, okay, his flying machines didn’t work, but that was only because they lacked sufficient energy, being powered, as they necessarily were in the 15th century, with only manpower.
The exhibition was primarily of his engineering achievements, with both indoor galleries and a quite vast outdoor “park” throughout the grounds. Of course, there were some parts showcasing his artistic genius, his architectural designs, and his philosophical enlightenment… The man was amazing. I was awed.
I was tempted, after learning so much more about da Vinci, to visit the castle as well, since it includes the chapel where da Vinci was laid to rest. But we would have been rushed, and, as I said, Kirianne can only take so much in the way of castles and museums… so we opted to wander around the main street of town, grab a bit of lunch on the go, and then splurged on a fancy coffee/hot chocolate and patisserie break in a fancy café, before heading back to collect our bags from the hotel and hiking to the train for Tours.