Amboise is one of the most charming places you’ll find along the river Loire in France. It’s hard to get more picturesque than this! While Amboise is on the smaller side of things, there is plenty to do to keep you entertained and enthralled.
The Amboise Chateau is situated right next to the Loire and the charming town itself sits right below. Indeed, some famous figures spent some time here, namely Leonardo da Vinci, Catherine de Medici and Mary Stuart (Queen of Scots).
As if the history and beauty isn’t enough to pull you in for at least a day trip to Amboise, you’ll find Patisserie Bigot just outside the chateau, beckoning you to try some of its delightful sweets to put the cherry on top of a fantastic visit.
In this post, we walk you through some fun things to do in Amboise that will make it a memorable stop on your French adventure.
But first, where is Amboise and how do you get there?
How to Get to Amboise
As we’ve mentioned, it’s right along the river Loire but let’s get more specific. Major towns nearby that you should note are Tours and Blois (both of those are worth visiting!) and you’ll find them along the river Loire as well.
However, Amboise is reachable even from as far as Paris so let’s talk about the best ways to get there!
Having spent a month in France, we’ve had our fair share of getting around from place to place. Sometimes it was the train, sometimes it was a rental car, sometimes it was even on a bicycle.
But we’d like to briefly touch on all the options at your disposal for getting to Amboise because you never know, the train workers might go on strike the day of your travels! Seriously…
The train, strikes aside, is the easiest option. Once you arrive in Amboise, it’s just a quick 10-minute walk in which you’ll cross the bridge over the river Loire and have the chateau in front of you. It’s the perfect way to enter town and we highly recommend doing so!
If coming from Blois, Tours, Le Mans, Orleans, Paris, the train is the way to go! And the ride is so scenic. Kick back and enjoy.
Alternatives to Trains
However, like we said, if the trains are on strike (yes, unlikely, but it happened to us!) then you need to be prepared for an alternative way of getting to Amboise.
We’ve written an entire post on getting around France that goes into other modes of transportation like renting a car and BlaBlaCar (a unique rideshare). If you find trains too pricey, because sometimes they are, or there’s a workers’ strike, then be sure to read up on it for some other ideas!
Pro Tip: If you’re lucky enough to be staying near Amboise in cities like Tours or Blois, why not rent a bike for the day? You’re already so close and France does a fantastic job at making destinations bike friendly.
You can ride along the river Loire at your own pace, which will be a beautiful trip in itself. Maybe even pull off at a chateau or two along the way. You’ll find bike rental shops galore in both cities!
The Amboise Chateau is the highlight of the city. Placed atop a hill overlooking the quaint houses and the rushing Loire, it’s the perfect setting.
You’re free to walk around and explore the town but it’s a good idea to start your day here, as it’s the main attraction. For 12.80 euros you gain entry to the entire chateau, chapel (where Da Vinci is buried) and the lovely grounds.
You also get a histopad that will take you back in time in an interactive way as you venture through the chateau. Seriously, it’s one of the coolest handheld guides ever and it doesn’t cost extra!
Once you’re through the gate, you’ll be able to meander at your own pace and enjoy the grounds.
Take note (as you’ll learn as you explore the chateau) that it used to be much bigger! It went through a time of decay, especially following the revolution but has since been restored and is in great condition today!
Once inside, you’ll learn where the guards were stationed, where the royalty lived, ate and entertained, as well as get some fantastic panoramic views of the river Loire and town below.
It’s a very detailed walk-through (but not overwhelming) with the histopad, as it takes you through all the rooms in the chateau. Be on the lookout for mini towers in each room that have a QR code. You’ll need to scan these for your histopad to take you on a virtual tour back in time.
For opening times year-round, check out Amboise Chateau’s webiste.
Don’t forget about the chateau gardens!
Looking down at the river or admiring the chateau with its lush green surroundings, catch your breath and relax in the gardens. You’ll find benches scattered about as well as different viewpoints of Amboise and the river. Not a bad place to have a bite if you brought a snack!
Again, these are included in the entry price!
Chapel of Saint-Hubert
Even though the Chapel of Saint-Hubert is small in size, that does not take away from its significance. It is here that you’ll find the resting place of Leonardo da Vinci!
The Chapel of Saint-Hubert is located on the Amboise Chateau grounds so you don’t need to pay anything extra to visit.
It’s a very fascinating story as to how Leonardo’s remains ended up here. He was asked by King Francis I to come and work for him. Da Vinci accepted and arrived (with Mona Lisa in tow) in the early 16th century but died just a few years later.
His remains had actually been excavated in a different chapel, more than 300 years after his death, and are now resting in the Chapel of Saint-Hubert.
We don’t want to spoil the whole history; we’ll just advise you to be sure and step inside the chapel and admire not only Da Vinci’s grave but also the beautiful architecture and stained glass.
Leonardo Da Vinci’s House – Château du Clos Lucé
There’s another chateau in Amboise not to be missed. It’s where Leonardo da Vinci lived and worked during his time in town. While his home may not be as eye-catching or as large as the royal Amboise Chateau, it’s still worth a visit.
However, visiting two chateaus in one day and exploring the gardens of each (Clos Lucé has quite a large and intricate garden) sounds pretty exhausting.
The downside to Chateau du Clos Lucé is the price. During high season, April 1st to November 15th, prices start at 17 euros per adult. That’s quite expensive for a smaller chateau.
But, of course, it’s Leonardo da Vinci we’re talking about here so we’re not surprised.
As far as your itinerary in Amboise and our recommendations, we think if you have multiple days that you should definitely visit both chateaus at your leisure.
If you’re constricted to just one day in Amboise, like we were, then we recommend making the difficult decision in choosing just one chateau so you can relax, have energy to explore the beautiful side streets, and of course, eat something yummy!
We were more than thrilled with just seeing the Amboise Chateau, saving money and time by not visiting Chateau du Clos Lucé.
All in all, the decision is yours and you will have a wonderful time regardless! For info on times, tickets, and suggestions, see Chateau du Clos Lucé’s website.
Église Saint-Florentin (Saint Florentin Church of Amboise)
A lesser talked about but still important structure in town is the Saint Florentin Church of Amboise. It dates back to the 15th century. Of course, during WW2, the church suffered some pretty bad damage and lost its stained glass windows.
While the stained glass may not have the history to it, these works lack nothing in terms of beauty. They really are a masterpiece and it’s more than worth your time to step in for a look.
You’ll find this church just off the main street leading toward the Amboise Chateau, near the bridge.
In our opinion, you can never go wrong with dessert. That’s especially true in France. From macarons to éclairs to the most detailed and delicate pastries you’ll lay eyes on, be sure to stop in Patisserie Bigot for a bite of goodness. It’s just across from Amboise Chateau.
You’ll find more than just sweets here though. There are breakfast and lunch options available! This will be your favorite spot in Amboise!
Summary of Things to Do in Amboise, France
Amboise is a small town but it’s one that defines this region of France: charming, quaint, and of course, delicious. Whether you’ve only got one day or you’re settling in for a long stay (we’re jealous!) there are some great things to do in Amboise that will make this a special journey in France.