Along the sultry southern shores of the Loire River, the medieval gem of Amboise awaits with open arms. Just a stone’s throw from Paris—because let’s face it, who isn’t looking for an escape from the city buzz—a jaunt to Amboise offers a delightful plunge into the heart of the Loire Valley’s castle country. Whether you’re a history buff, a lover of all things quaint, or just in it for some stellar Instagram content, Amboise is your go-to for a day trip dipped in charm and châteaux.


Pinterest graphic depicting a castle in Amboise, france with the script: day trip: explore chateaux in Amboise, France

Is Amboise worth visiting?

Absolutely slot Amboise into your French getaway! It’s a top contender for the best day trips from Paris, especially if you’re someone who knows how to navigate a train schedule. The town is perfectly portioned for a day’s adventure—packed with enough sights to dazzle you, but not so many that you’ll feel the FOMO if you can only swing a quick visit. And let’s be honest, there’s something almost indulgent about boarding an early train from Paris, exploring a new place by foot, and then hopping back on a late train, feet weary but spirit invigorated. Amboise doesn’t just make the journey worthwhile; it turns it into a highlight.

What is Amboise famous for?Goat in Amboise, France seen through a red iron gate.

Amboise is a showstopper with its lineup of dramatic landmarks like the regal Château d’Amboise, the inventive Château Clos Lucé (hello, Leonardo da Vinci’s playground!), the serene Chapelle Hubert, and the charming Château Gaillard. Once the playground of French kings, Amboise has traded its royal robes for the cozy charm of a quintessential French market town. It’s a place where history doesn’t just whisper; it speaks volumes in every cobblestoned street and corner café.

How to get from Paris to Amboise

Navigating your way to Amboise for a day trip is a breeze, whether you opt for public transport or decide to go the self-drive route (just remember, non-EU explorers, snag that International Driving Permit if you’re thinking of renting some wheels!).

Catching a train from Paris? You’re in luck. The direct train zips you from Paris Austerlitz to Amboise in about an hour and forty-five minutes. Imagine leaving Paris at the crisp hour of 07:30 and stepping into Amboise by 09:20—just in time for a second breakfast, French style. For those keen on trimming travel time, this early bird special is your golden ticket.

On the flip side, the 17:30 train will whisk you back to Paris by 19:20, perfect for dusting off and diving into a chic Parisian dinner.

Not a morning person? No worries! There are trains with connections running throughout the day. These range from a leisurely two hours and fifteen minutes to a more laid-back four hours—just double-check those schedules to avoid any surprises.

Once you arrive, Amboise station is your gateway to adventure, with a mere fifteen-to-twenty minute stroll across the Loire bringing you into the heart of this historic town. Here, the Royal Château d’Amboise, Château le Clos Lucé, and Château Gaillard await your discovery, nestled amongst quaint streets perfect for meandering and munching. Grab your tickets via the SNCF website and get ready for a day packed with royal history and riverside charm.

Royal Château D’Amboise

Chateau Royal d'Amboise seen from the side with manicured gardens and hedges in the background.

Perched dramatically atop a rugged cliff that cascades down to the Loire River, the Royal Château d’Amboise makes a majestic first impression as you enter the town. This fortress isn’t just a structure; it’s a profound piece of French royal history, standing sentinel since the Middle Ages and bearing witness to the ebbs and flows of power through to the 19th century.

François I, crowned King of France in 1515, chose Amboise as one of his favored retreats. It was here, amid the opulent halls, that he threw grandiose parties and rubbed elbows with none other than Leonardo da Vinci, one of the brightest minds to ever grace our world. Although François I’s descendants gradually shifted the royal hotspot away from Amboise, the château continued to serve as a scenic getaway for French royalty on their jaunts around the kingdom.chateau-royal-damboise

When the tides of the French Revolution rose, the château was commandeered and repurposed as barracks for veterans. Today, those martial days are long past, and the château has been transformed into a museum, inviting visitors to step through the corridors of time.

For those planning a visit, the château welcomes guests year-round, save for closures on January 1st and December 25th. The park bids adieu one hour post ticket office closure. Entry is priced at €13.30 for adults, with discounts available for children and seniors. So, whether you’re a history buff, an architecture enthusiast, or just in search of a picturesque day out, Royal Château d’Amboise is a chapter of French history you won’t want to miss.

Le Clos Lucé & Leonardo da Vincichateau-le-clos-luce

In 1516, the art world’s stars aligned when François I extended an irresistible offer to Leonardo da Vinci: move to le Clos Lucé, receive a generous stipend, and have his artistic endeavors fully funded. It’s no surprise, as François was utterly captivated by da Vinci, often finding joy in simply listening to the Renaissance man speak daily.

Le Clos Lucé, while not as grand in size as its fellow Loire Valley châteaux, boasts a romantic allure with its pink brick and tufa stone façade— quintessential of 15th-century French architecture.

Da Vinci spent his final three years in this idyllic setting, his days filled with painting and tinkering with the inventions that would seal his legacy as a polymath. The Château now houses a museum dedicated to his genius, featuring a replica of his workshop split into three zones: painting, sculpting, and designing. The design studio is particularly mesmerizing, with its model of the double helix staircase, sketches, and intricate engineer’s models.Leonardo da Vinci's workshop, desk and pinned drawings to a board.

Da Vinci’s space brimmed with items like a naturalist cabinet, a personal library, and a diverse array of tools—showcasing his roles as a painter, engineer, architect, and even scenographer for royal festivities. Up until his last breath, he perfected his beloved masterpieces: The Mona Lisa, The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne, and Saint John the Baptist.

Venture into the basement of le Clos Lucé, and you’ll meet Leonardo ‘the engineer’. Over forty visionary machines, constructed by IBM from da Vinci’s original drawings, illustrate his pioneering work in fields from civil engineering to aeronautics—including his designs for the first tank, automobile, and even the helicopter.

Outside, the Château grounds are transformed into the Leonardo da Vinci park, where the landscape is divided into six thematic areas to echo da Vinci’s inspiration from nature.

While on-site dining options like the crêperie and tearoom cater primarily to tourists and might come at a premium, they offer a taste of the era with dishes inspired by da Vinci’s time.

Château le Clos Lucé was the highlight of my visit to Amboise, largely due to its profound connection with Leonardo da Vinci. The basement, adorned with da Vinci’s inspiring quotes, was particularly memorable.

Planning a visit? Note that le Clos Lucé is closed only on January 1st and December 25th. Adult admission varies between €13.50 and €16.00 depending on the season, with discounts for children, students, and families available. Tickets can be purchased both online and in person, ensuring your entry into this window to the past.

Why is Leonardo da Vinci Buried in France?chapelle-saint-hubert

As previously noted, Leonardo da Vinci’s final chapter unfolded in France, where he spent his last three years. At his behest, upon his passing in May 1519, da Vinci was laid to rest in the church of Saint-Florentin, nestled within the grounds of the Royal Château d’Amboise. However, the tides of history and revolution were not kind to Saint-Florentin, which met its demise during the tumultuous years of the French Revolution.

About half a century later, a serendipitous discovery was made among the ruins of the old church: a skeleton, near which lay stones inscribed with the name Leonardo da Vinci. These poignant relics signaled that the remains might well belong to the revered Renaissance master himself. In a fitting tribute, the remains were carefully relocated to la Chapelle Saint-Hubert, an exquisite chapel that sits in quiet companionship beside the Royal Château d’Amboise, offering a more enduring sanctuary for the artist’s final resting place.

Château GaillardChateau Gaillard in Amboise, France

The trek from Château le Clos Lucé to Château Gaillard marks the longest stretch of the journey and serves as a test of both endurance and footwear. Trust me, you’ll want to lace up your most comfortable shoes for this one—take it from someone who learned the hard way. On my visit, I regretfully chose style over comfort, which resulted in more than just a fashion faux pas.

The walk itself was enchanting, with crisp, clean air and a slight incline that kept us warm against the chill of early Spring. As we ventured further from the town center, the bustle of tourists thinned, and the quiet streets offered a serene ambiance.

Just on the outskirts of Château Gaillard, a quaint shop beckoned us with local artisanal treasures—confiture, marmalade, and honey. The keeper, a young woman engrossed in a book, greeted us with a gentle smile. We couldn’t resist purchasing some jams, capturing the sweet essence of France to savor back home.

Château Gaillard, celebrated for housing France’s first Renaissance gardens, was an aromatic haven. The legendary gardener Dom Pacello, a Benedictine monk, meticulously replicated the enchanting Italian gardens desired by French kings, adorning the grounds with a plethora of orange trees.L'orangerie at Chateau Gaillard in Amboise, France.

Though Château Gaillard itself might have seemed modest compared to its floral vibrancy, the gardens were just beginning their spring awakening during my visit. The orangerie was a highlight, filled with the delicate fragrances of various citrus species—a balm for the crisp weather’s bite. Housing 160 trees ranging from 10 to 100 years old and representing 60 different species—from Buddha’s hand to Moro blood oranges—the orangerie was a citrus lover’s paradise.

If you’re planning a visit, Château Gaillard welcomes guests daily from 10:00 to 18:00. Tickets are €13 for adults, with discounts available for students, seniors, and children. Here’s a tip: show your ticket from Château le Clos Lucé for a €1 discount. This stroll through history and horticulture is not just a walk but an experience—one that offers a tactile connection to France’s regal and botanical legacy.

Town of AmboiseTown of Amboise, France

Strolling through the heart of Amboise, one is instantly captivated by the architectural charm of its narrow streets, lined with stone and half-timbered houses. The stone structures, fashioned in Renaissance style from local stone that gracefully fades over time, stand in elegant contrast to the medieval timber-framed buildings, offering a snapshot of a time when modernity was centuries away. This blend lends Amboise an old-world charm you simply don’t find in Paris.

Despite the brisk early April air, there was a palpable buzz in Amboise. Locals emerged from their winter cocoons, injecting life back into the town’s veins, reinforcing my belief that choosing Amboise for a day trip was a stroke of genius. The lack of heavy tourist traffic was a refreshing change from Paris’s often overcrowded scenes.

After our explorative walk from Château Gaillard, my mom and I were in desperate need of refueling. We found our solace at La Réserve, where we indulged in a glass of rosé paired with a hearty bowl of soupe à l’oignon—the quintessential French pick-me-up. The flavors were so comforting, they almost demanded a return visit.

If you fancy a slight tweak to your itinerary to soak in more of Amboise, don’t miss the town hall and the historic clock tower. Originally built in the 15th century as the main gateway to the town, it evolved into a bell tower by 1445, with the clock making its debut shortly after.

A day in Amboise is like a time machine to the Renaissance, when art thrived and groundbreaking ideas were as common as the morning bread. It offers a quaint escape from Paris, allowing you to glimpse the life of French royalty who might have retreated here, seeking solace from the Parisian hustle.

For those looking to broaden their day-trip horizons from Paris, consider Rouen in Normandy, famous for its connection to Joan of Arc and its stunning cathedral. Or head to Reims, nestled in the Champagne region, notable for its pivotal role in WWII and its majestic cathedral where French kings were once crowned.

Read Next:

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