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Amboise, Amboise

See the Loire Valley Guide ›'s insider take:

Amboise is, above all, a spectacular site. The immense château royal looms above the river right in the center of town, with its tiny Gothic chapel containing the tomb of Leonardo da Vinci (33-2-47-57-00-98; Part medieval fortress (witness the two massive round towers) and part Renaissance residence, the interiors run the gamut from the vaulted Gothic guard room to the plush chambers of Citizen-King Louis-Philippe. About a ten-minute walk up the hill is the town's other major sight, the Clos Lucé, a red brick manor where Leonardo da Vinci spent his last years (33-2-47-57-00-73, It's since been converted into an exhibit of the artist's incredible inventions (helicopter, armored tank, and more), and full-size models constructed from his designs are scattered around the gardens (open April through October). The rest of the town is also pleasant, with its white stone and half-timbered houses, several fine hotels, and riverside promenade.

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