Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) spent the last three years of his life at the Chateau du Clos Lucé in the Loire. He was the guest of Francis I, King of France, who was fascinated by the arts and inspired by the great Italian painter.
The gardens of the Chateau du Clos Lucé
After you’ve visited the beautifully restored and furnished castle where Leonardo completed his masterpiece the Mona Lisa painting, don’t miss a visit to the gardens. Go in May or June and you can’t help but notice the very bright pink Mona Lisa Roses, planted in huge swathes in the terrace garden.
The 15 acre park is magnificent for the innovative way in which Leonardo’s artwork is depicted. Around 25 of his famous creations have been bought to life in truly innovative museography. You can sit in a wooden tank made to scale, climb aboard a paddle boat, handle a multi-barrelled gun, turn a giant cork screw and more. It brings to life in a unique way the works of the man known as the “Florentine Genius”.
The trees are hung with huge translucent representations of his paintings and sayings, they seem to float. It’s romantic, ethereal and beautifully done. An enormous Mona Lisa sways gently, you almost feel as though you can hear her whisper.
Ducks roam the grounds, the sound of the river gently lulls you into peaceful relaxation. This is a park in which to spend an hour or two in tranquil and stunning surroundings.
There’s a charming creperie in the park next to the chateau on the Renaissance terrace as well as a snack style restaurant along side the river in the park. There’s also the Auberge du Prieuré restaurant in a former 16th century house serving Renaissance dishes.
Read more about the Chateau du Clos Lucé
How to get to Chateau du Clos Lucé
The train from Paris to Amboise takes from 1hour 15 minutes (average journey time is 1 hour 52 minutes). There is a year-round bus service from the station to the town centre.
The Chateau du Clos Lucé is open year-round (except 25 December and 1 January). See the website for details: www.vinci-closluce.com;
For more info and things to do in the area see: www.amboise-valdeloire.co.uk; www.loirevalley-france.co.uk; uk.france.fr