Chateau du Clos Luce, a former fortress
The Chateau du Clos Luce was initially known as Château de Cloux. Estienne le Loup, the bailiff of Louis XI, built the fortress in the 15th century.
A small cannon or culverin then stood on the watchtower’s gallery, to protect the entrance gate.
Charles VIII bought Cloux in 1490.
He pulled it down and built the current red brick and white limestone mansion with an oratory for his wife Ann of Brittany on the ground floor.
Chateau du Clos Luce, Leonardo da Vinci’s last residence
He converted the chateau into an elegant French Renaissance mansion and the walkway into a loggia.
Leonardo lived at the Chateau du Clos Luce from 1516 until his death on May 2, 1519; he was 67.
He spent most of his life between Florence and Milan.
A painter, sculptor, poet, musician, engineer and architect of talent, he was also a brilliant artist and a great visionary.
He indeed produced a substantial list of sketches, drawings, sculptures, poems, drawings of machines and obviously paintings, which are among the world’s most famous.
These paintings include Mona Lisa, John the Baptist and the Last Supper, today exhibited in the Louvre Museum.
Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘fabuleuses machines’ in Clos Luce
The basement of the Chateau du Clos Luce was converted into a permanent exhibition hall that presents 40 of Leonardo’s most famous inventions.
IBM created the models of these fabuleuses machines.
Leonardo da Vinci was four centuries ahead of his time!
He indeed invented the ‘concepts’ of the helicopter, airplane, parachute, tank, machine gun, swing-bridge, first self-propelled vehicle, swing-bridge and telephone to name a few.
The display is amazing. Both children and adults experience the same fascination.
You’ll also see the entrance to the secret passageway, which connects the Chateau du Clos Luce to the Château of Amboise, in a corner of the basement.
François I indeed regularly visited his old friend.
The spiritual presence of Leonardo da Vinci
The Chateau du Clos Luce is filled with the old artist’s spiritual presence.
Paintings, sketches and a multitude of models built from his inventions are indeed exhibited in the mansion’s many rooms and guide visitors into his world.
Leonardo’s bedroom window has plain view of the Château of Amboise. This where the old artist once stood in order to sketch it; the drawing is displayed on the wall to the left of the window.
Little has changed in this room, where Leonardo wrote his will more than four centuries ago.
A door leads directly from his room to his ‘work-room’.
Legend has it that Leonardo painted his John the Baptist in one of the bright garden-side day rooms.
Entirely re-decorated by the Amboise Family in the 18th century, they have, however, retained their elegant furniture and tapestries.
Leonardo entertained the king in the Reception Room, where the high-back chair on which the king sat is on display.
The kitchen still bears the traces of everyday life. It is easy to imagine the old man installed comfortably in his armchair, warming himself by the monumental medieval fireplace.
However, be aware that the Gothic furniture and tapestries that adorn the Chateau du Clos Luce are contemporary to Leonardo da Vinci, but were not the mansion’s originals.
Oratory of Anne de Bretagne
The oratory of Anne de Bretagne is located on the ground floor of the mansion.
Pupils of the School of Leonardo decorated it with a series of frescoes. Three Fleur de Lys, the coat of arms of France, adorn the centre of the vault.
Chateau du Clos Luce Gardens
The terrace and the rose garden boast prime views of the castle and the town of Amboise.
The vast bucolic garden spread at the front of the mansion.
It is today an outdoors cultural space entirely dedicated to Leonardo’s life and work. It is a lovely place to stroll through after the visit of the mansion.
Department of Indre-et-Loire – Amboise
Coordinates: Lat 47.410235 – Long 0.992081