Chateaux-filled valley marks French Renaissance links

Sunset over the Château Royal d’Amboise

Half-a-millennium after the death of Leonardo da Vinci in Amboise, The Connexion reveals how the Loire Valley is celebrating French links to a stunning period in European history

The Loire Valley is famous for its chateaux and wineries, linked by cycle paths that wend their way across its 800 square kilometres.

Stretching 280kms from Sully-sur-Loire to Chalonnes-sur-Loire, it has been called the ‘Cradle of the French’ and the ‘Garden of France’. It includes the historic towns of Amboise, Angers, Blois, Chinon, Montsoreau, Orléans, Saumur and Tours.

This bumper-sized Unesco World Heritage site is stuffed with Renaissance history – and because 2019 is the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci and the birth of Catherine de’ Medici, it is an ideal time to visit the region and bask in France’s past glories.

The Renaissance was a period spanning about three centuries, from circa 1300, of intellectual, artistic, cultural, economic and political rebirth marking the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of modernity.

It saw the rediscovery of classical philosophy, literature and art along with the flowering of new ideas, and global exploration which opened up new lands and cultures to European trade.

A visit to the Château Royal d’Amboise is a good place to start any Renaissance immersion in France and discover Leonardo da Vinci’s links to the country.

The dramatic seat of the Château Royal d’Amboise

It was one of several residences used by the court of François I (1497-1547). The chateau stands high above the town and access is via a steep cobbled path.

François I repeatedly invited Leonardo da Vinci to join the royal court, but his guest only accepted the invitation when he was 67 years old.

His age did not matter. He was one ...

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