The Loire Valley, in central France, reflects French style, nature and gastronomy at their greatest. And, boasting Leonardo da Vinci as a former resident, there's no better way to visit this Renaissance-rich region than to do so in the footsteps of da Vinci himself, a visionary who was as much a naturalist as he was an artist and scientist.
The Loire Valley by train
The Loire Valley is a natural guardian of Renaissance architecture, with over a hundred chateaux peppered prettily around hills that rise and fall as beautifully as the velvets and silks of the period. It was also home to the father of the Renaissance, Leonardo da Vinci, who was invited to live at Clos Lucé in Amboise by King Francis I in 1516 where he lived until he died in 1519.
Here are the top places to visit in the Loire Valley, all accessible by train . As da Vinci was a committed naturalist, we hope that by offering you an easy way to get to the Loire Valley by train, the low carbon way, is a fitting homage to this great artist:
Chateau du Clos Lucé, Amboise
Amboise is just 1 hr 40 mins from Paris and Chateau du Clos Lucé, in the centre of Amboise, is where the masterpiece Mona Lisa was completed, with many more after that as this was Leonardo da Vinci’s home until he died. Today you can take in the master’s home, a reconstruction of his studios, his gardens and an entire park with trails that highlight the way in which nature always influenced da Vinci’s work and philosophy.
Loire Valley © Rail Europe
Chateau Royal d’Amboise
Also in the heart of__ Amboise , Chateau Royal d’Amboise was home to Kings Charles VIII and Francis I and also the resting place of Leonardo da Vinci, whose tomb is in the Château’s chapel. A beautiful resting place too with views from its ramparts, terraced gardens and rooftops over the Loire landscape__. From its balconies, roofs and terraced gardens, visitors can take in the Loire landscape, a large stretch of which has been awarded Unesco heritage status . When you head up high and take it all in, you can see why.
Loire Valley Chateau Amboise © Rail Europe
Although Chateau Chenonceau was completed soon after da Vinci’s death, this is probably the Loire Valley’s most celebrated Renaissance chateau. There is a railway station at Chenonceau which is just half an hour from the city of Tours .
Home to several noble families, the most famous was Catherine de' Medici, who had the vision of extending her already impressive inheritance, with a gallery that spans over the river Cher. This is one of the castle’s most iconic features, and it is also now France’s second most visited chateau after Versailles (just 2 hrs 30 mins by train if you wanted to visit the two greats on one trip).
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