Castle Of Amboise: Best Tips For Visiting In 2024

The Castle of Amboise (in French, Château d’Amboise) is one of the most important castles in France, as it was one of the favorites of the French Royal Family. On top of that, it’s one of the best-preserved French castles in the country, with architectural and decorative elements from the end of the 15th century!

In addition to dozens of magnificent rooms, galleries, and chambers, the Castle of Amboise comprises countless outdoor terraces, guard towers, and lush gardens. And if you’re planning a visit to Amboise, you can (and should) dedicate an entire morning/afternoon to exploring this former royal palace!

So, do you want to know more about the Castle of Amboise: Best Tips For Visiting In 2024? Keep reading!

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Castle of Amboise
Castle of Amboise

Brief History of the Castle of Amboise

Before being confiscated by King Charles VII and annexed to the possessions of the French Crown on September 4th, 1434, the Castle of Amboise belonged to the House of Amboise (in French, Maison d’Amboise) for more than four centuries.

These days, it’s estimated that 75% of the Castle of Amboise, built by King Charles VIII of France, still subsists. This monarch was one of the main drivers of its restoration in the late French Flamboyant Gothic style, which began in 1492 and intensified from 1495 onwards.

Two Italian master masons were commissioned to carry out this architectural project: Domenico da Cortona and Fra Giocondo. They were joined by three French builders – Colin Biart, Guillaume Senault, and Louis Armangeart – who helped to found the French Renaissance style.

World Heritage

Did you know that the Castle of Amboise was part of France’s fourteenth set of inscriptions on the UNESCO World Heritage List? This 24th session of the World Heritage Committee took place in Cairns (Australia), between November 27th and December 2nd, 2000.

Nowadays, France is the third country in the world and the second country in Europe with the most UNESCO sites, tied with Germany. It has fifty-two heritage assets (both cultural and natural) inscribed on the world list of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization!

In the meantime, I’ve already had the opportunity to visit nine of them:

  1. Historic Center of Avignon: Papal Palace, Episcopal Ensemble and Avignon Bridge (1995)
  2. Le Havre, the City Rebuilt by Auguste Perret (2005)
  3. Mont Saint-Michel and its Bay (1979)
  4. Nice, Winter Resort Town of the Riviera (2021)
  5. Palace and Park of Fontainebleau (1981)
  6. Palace and Park of Versailles (1979)
  7. Paris, Banks of the Seine (1991)
  8. Provins, Town of Medieval Fairs (2001)
  9. The Loire Valley between Sully-sur-Loire and Chalonnes (2000) – Castle of Amboise, Castle of Blois, Castle of Chambord, Castle of Chenonceau, Castle of Sully-sur-Loire, and Palace of Clos Lucé

How to Get to the Castle of Amboise

In my opinion, the quickest and most practical way to get to the Castle of Amboise is by car. Especially since this UNESCO World Heritage site is one of the best attractions to visit on a road trip through the Loire Valley!

However, if you don’t have that possibility, you can travel by train from the French capital. To do this, you must first take an Ouigo or TGV inOui train from Gare de Paris-Montparnasse and then change at Gare de Saint-Pierre-des-Corps for a TER (Transport Express Régional) train towards Gare d’Amboise.

Opening Hours & Ticket Prices

The Castle of Amboise is open every day from 9 am, although closing times vary between 4:30 pm and 7 pm depending on the time of year. During high season, the monument closes at 6 pm (in April and September), 6:30 pm (in May and June) and 7 pm (in July and August).

TIP: Before your visit, check the opening times on the official Castle of Amboise website!

The ticket costs €16.40 (adults), €13.70 (students), or €10.50 (children and young people aged 7 to 18), while children under 7 don’t pay entrance. This ticket includes a Histopad available in twelve different languages: French, English, Italian, Spanish, German, Portuguese, Dutch, Russian, Polish, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean.

What to See at the Castle of Amboise

Castle of Amboise

The Castle of Amboise has more than a dozen spaces to visit. And I’m just talking about the interior spaces! These are the halls, rooms, pavilions, and apartments that you can discover in this guide:

  • Guards’ Room
  • Sentries’ Walk
  • Pillar Room
  • Drummers’ Room
  • Great Hall
  • Great Chamber
  • King’s Bedroom
  • Dressing Room
  • Orléans-Penthièvre Study
  • Orléans Chamber
  • Music Room
  • Minimes Tower
  • Aumale’s Gallery

Guards’ Room

The Guards’ Room (in French, Salle des Gardes) is the first space of the Gothic residence to which visitors to the Castle of Amboise have access. And one of the architectural details that highlights this artistic period is the cross-beam vaults, which adorn the ceiling.

The Guards’ Room was the entrance to the royal apartments of the Castle of Amboise. As the name suggests, it was in this space that the King’s personal guard squad remained, which protected access to the building’s noble floors day and night.

Sentries’ Walk

The Sentries’ Walk (in French, Promenoir des Gardes) is a covered outdoor gallery adjacent to the Guards’ Room. From here, the King’s personal guard squad could monitor the boats sailing and crossing the Loire River, to anticipate possible enemy attacks.

Although the Castle of Amboise was built on an imposing buttress on the south bank of the Loire River, rising high above the surrounding village, the monument depended on these watchtowers and patrolling sites to ensure the safety of the French Royal Family.

Pillar Room

The Pillar Room (in French, Salle du Pilier) was a passage hall between an old gallery of the keep and the royal residence itself, used only by the guards and maids of the Castle of Amboise.

Formerly known as the Noble Guards’ Hall (in French, Salle des Gardes Nobles), the Pillar Room features a ceiling similar to the Guards’ Room, with cross-beam vaults. As for the Gothic central column, which supports the architectural complex, is reminiscent of a palm tree!

Drummers’ Room

The Drummer’s Room (in French, Salle des Tambourineurs) was the former dressing room of King Charles VIII of France. At that time, the Royal Court was constantly on the move and all the furniture in this room was taken with them on these trips.

The Drummers’ Rooç received its current name in 1661, during a visit by King Louis XIV of France to Amboise. This name is an allusion to the musicians (or drummers) who participated in the numerous parties and balls held at the Castle of Amboise.

Great Hall

The Grand Hall (in French, Grande Salle) was one of the first European halls of such dimensions used for entertaining courtiers. Adjoining is the courtyard where two important royal events were held in 1518: the baptism of the Dauphin and the wedding of Pope Laurent II de Medici’s nephew.

Formerly called the Council Chamber (in French, Salle du Conseil), this hall was the symbol of the wealth of King Francis I of France and the reflection of his powerful alliances with the Holy See and the major European courts in the Renaissance – in particular, the Italian court.

Great Chamber

The Great Chamber (in French, Grande Chambre) currently displays an interesting collection of furniture and objects associated with the customs of royal meals in the Renaissance period. Among them, the Italian table, which replaced the medieval trestles, is worth mentioning.

Formerly known as the Cup-Bearer’s Room (in French, Salle de l’Échanson), the Great Chamber initially served as a stateroom. It was in this space that the king received his closest guests, away from the curious eyes of the French court.

King’s Bedroom

The King’s Bedroom (in French, Chambre du Roi), as you might have guessed from its name, was the bedroom of King Francis I of France and his second son and heir, King Henry II of France. It was later occupied by the latter’s widow, Catherine de Medici.

Formerly known as Henry II’s Bedroom (in French, Chambre Henri II), the King’s Bedroom is ornamented with a richly carved bed, tapestries woven in Belgium, and the painting “The Death of Leonardo da Vinci” by François-Guillaume Ménageot in 1781.

Garderobe

The Garderobe (in French, Garde-Robe) is a small room located a short distance from the king’s chambers (or the queen’s, depending on who frequented the King’s Bedroom). Here, the monarch’s clothes were kept in large wooden chests.

Formerly known as the Cordelier’s Antechamber (in French, Antichambre de la Cordelière), the Garderobe was renovated in the 19th century. As you enter, notice the magnificent fireplace, carved with the Collar of the Order of Saint-Michel and the interlaced cord of the Franciscan Order.

Orléans-Penthièvre Cabinet

The Orléans-Penthièvre Cabinet (in French, Cabinet Orléans-Penthièvre) is a former study, decorated in the style of the period (i.e. late 18th century). It’s also the first of three rooms that make up the Orléans Apartments.

The Castle of Amboise was acquired in 1786 by the Duke of Penthièvre, cousin of King Louis XVI. After being confiscated and burned down during the French Revolution, the royal residence was recovered by the Duke of Penthièvre’s sole heir: Louise Marie Adelaide de Bourbon, Duchess of Orléans.

Orléans Bedroom

The Orléns Bedroom (in French, Chambre Orléns) is the second room of the Orléans Apartments. Adorned according to the preferences of the time, it displays an official portrait of King Louis Philippe I of France, who received the Castle of Amboise from his mother, Louise Marie Adelaide of Bourbon.

Louis Philippe I came to the throne of France in 1830 thanks to his avant-garde ideas and great popularity. Nevertheless, the economic prosperity that marked the beginning of his reign quickly turned into a deep economic and social crisis, which forced him to abdicate the crown in 1848.

Music Room

The Music Room (in French, Salon de Musique) is the third and last of the rooms that make up the Orléans Apartments. In addition to the grand piano and the harp that give it its name, both dating from the 19th century, the Music Room is a veritable museum of Orléans family relics!

King Louis Philippe I of France and his family used the Castle of Amboise as their holiday residence. For this reason, it’s no surprise that there are many portraits and busts of the king’s wife, children, and sister scattered throughout the room.

Minimes Tower

The Minimes Tower (in French, Tour des Minimes) has a rooftop terrace that offers panoramic views over the town of Amboise and the Loire Valley. On the other hand, the photo opportunities it offers tourists make it one of the busiest spots in the Castle of Amboise!

A huge adjacent hall, which was built in 1843 and has since been demolished, received with great ceremony the President and future Emperor Napoleon III of France, who went to the Castle of Amboise to personally announce to Emir Abdelkader his release.

Aumale Gallery

The Aumale Gallery (in French, Galerie d’Aumale) pays homage to the fifth son of King Louis Philippe I of France: Henri, Duke of Aumale and owner of the Castle of Amboise since 1895. To get there, you must climb the helix-shaped ramp, where the king’s (or emperor’s) horses would pass.

The Duke of Aumale was a military man and politician, as well as a renowned patron, who owned the largest private collection of books and ancient art in France. His legacy is currently preserved in the Castle of Chantilly, under the auspices of the Institut de France.

Gardens & Terraces

The successive kings and queens who inhabited the Castle of Amboise for several centuries sought to build outdoor nooks, where they could walk, socialize, and relax. And these are the gardens, towers, and terraces that you can discover in this guide:

  • Chapel of Saint Hubert
  • Garçonnet Tower
  • Naples Terrace
  • Landscaped Gardens
  • Lions Gate
  • Oriental Garden
  • Midi Garden
  • Heurtault Tower
  • Orangerie

Chapel of Saint Hubert

The Chapel of Saint Hubert (in French, Chapelle Saint-Hubert) is a religious temple in the flamboyant Gothic style, which houses the tomb of Leonardo da Vinci. Dedicated to Saint Hubert, the patron saint of hunters, it was built in 1493 for the private use of the French Royal Family.

The Chapel of Saint Hubert replaced the Collegiate Church of Saint Florentine, an 11th-century Romanesque building. It was in this now-demolished monument that Leonardo da Vinci was first buried. His bust in Carrara marble sculpted by Charles-Henri de Vauréal marks the exact spot.

Garçonnet Tower

The Garçonnet Tower (in French, Tour Garçonnet) is a circular structure, approximately 26 meters high, which was built between 1466 and 1468 to facilitate the coexistence of the Castle of Amboise with the town of Amboise, which was rapidly growing at its feet.

Located at the western end of the ramparts of the Castle of Amboise, the Garçonnet Tower offers one of the best views of this UNESCO World Heritage site, with direct views over the Loire River, the historic center of Amboise, and the Loire Valley!

Naples Terrace

The Naples Terrace (in French, Terrasse de Naples) is situated to the left of the Tower of the Minimes and visible from its roof. Dating back to 1496, it was designed by Don Pacello de Mercogliano, a Neapolitan landscape architect and hydraulic engineer.

When King Charles VIII of France returned from his conquest of the Kingdom of Naples, he decided to incorporate a large hanging garden into the architectural design of the Castle of Amboise. Open to the surrounding landscape, the Naples Terrace is one of the earliest examples of a “French garden”.

Landscaped Gardens

The Landscaped Gardens (in French, Jardins Paysagers) are the upper part of the gardens of the Castle of Amboise. Here, it’s possible to admire the botanical diversity and even spot the abundance of bird species that live in this large green space!

With narrow and winding paths, this ancient romantic park has been enriched in recent years with new types of plants, including holm oaks, cypresses, boxwoods, vines, grasses, star jasmine, geraniums, and milk thistles.

Lions Gate

The Lions Gate (in French, Porte des Lions) is a slatted wooden gate installed in the center of the eastern wall of the Castle of Amboise. Normally not accessible to the public, it allows access to the property from the top of the gardens, between the Landscaped Gardens and the Oriental Garden.

From this historic entrance, the central avenue of the Castle of Amboise’s green park connects the gardens to the royal residence. And just a few metres from the Lions’ Gate, you’ll also find a majestic Lebanese cedar, planted during the reign of Louis Philippe I!

Oriental Garden

The Oriental Garden (in French, Jardin d’Orient) was designed in 2005 by the Algerian artist, painter, sculptor, engraver, and ceramist Rachid Koraïchi, known for incorporating Arabic calligraphy as a graphic element in his contemporary works.

The Oriental Garden was created in honor of the twenty-five members of Emir Abdelkader’s entourage, who died in Amboise between 1848 and 1852. The stelae are arranged geometrically in three rows and are broken up by a green line of shrubs.

Midi Garden

The Midi Garden (in French, Jardin du Midi) is the southernmost section of the gardens of the Castle of Amboise. Its relatively small size has a fascinating diagonal layout but unfortunately, it can only be seen from above.

The various diagonal beds of Italian strawflowers (or curry plants) are intersected by a few diamond-shaped white rose bushes, creating a panoply of misaligned shapes, soft colors, and intense perfumes. Not to mention the views over the historic center of Amboise!

Heurtault Tower

The Heurtault Tower (in French, Tour Heurtault) is the second cavalry tower of the Castle of Amboise. With four floors and several dozen meters high, this huge round tower stands in line with the Minimes Tower, already described in this guide.

Both the Heurtault Tower and the Minimes Tower were erected between 1495 and 1498 on the initiative of King Charles III of France, and are therefore considered “twin towers”. The Heurtault Tower also has a helical ramp with a gentle slope.

Orangerie

The Orangerie is a newly renovated café and digital space that houses the restrooms, drinks and snack machines, and other service facilities of the Castle of Amboise. The Café de l’Orangerie is open from April to September (inclusive), selling drinks and light meals.

In the digital space of the Orangerie, visitors can learn more about the history of the Castle of Amboise through 3D models, interactive terminals, and giant screens. Due to its location, you can choose to visit it either at the beginning or the end of your visit to the Castle of Amboise!

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