I guess I was getting tired by the time I arrived at Chateau du Clos Luce because it’s the only chateau I visited where, after asking for my ticket in French and answering any additional questions about add-ons, they handed me an English guide – the others all handed me a French guide & I had to ask to switch it.
Chateau du Clos LuceClos Luce was definitely more of a “manor house” style than a castle – I tried to pick chateaus that were all somewhat unique in interior and exterior appearance and history because I really wanted to avoid burnout by Sunday. To the far right in the photo below is the only part remaining of the 12th century fortifications – the rest was built in 1471. This whole philosophy of just adding onto an ancient tower with a building of a totally different style is so odd to me. I guess during the era, it made more sense than tearing it down and building from scratch . . . lucky for us who get to see them still!
This is the only chateau I saw where the left section looks like basically a normal (if large) house that you can picture someone living in. While several of the rooms decorated as a specific person’s chambers turn out not to ever have been THEIR room (at Amboise, the wing actually used was destroyed), here you are in the actual room Leonardo da Vinci slept in and you can enjoy the same view of Chateau d’Amboise that he did. He was friends with the king, François I (aka Francis) and there is a secret passage that links the two chateaus together! The bed doesn’t appear to have been his, but it is very similar to the bed in a painting depicting the king by his side at his death (painting is on the wall to the left).
After going through the bedroom of Marguerite de Navarre (or d’Angouleme), the lower floor had the Oratory of Anne de Bretagne, who lived here prior to da Vinci’s era. King Charles VIII commissioned it for his wife who lost her first son at 3 years old to the measles and then 6 more children in infancy from their marriage. The ceiling is painted a stunning deep blue, but I wanted to capture the sense of mourning that seemed most appropriate in this place.
There was an 18th century sectoin with one room closed, but I admittedly cruised through it rather quickly. Same with the Renaissance Great Hall, despite it being where da Vinci entertained visitors . . . because they were the most like other things I’d seen and I wanted to see the models! By models, I mean all of the models IBM built from da Vinci’s drawings. On the way there, you can see the kitchen were da Vinci’s vegetarian meals were cooked as well. The quote on the blog is apparently attributed to him and the French certainly embrace it! Eating until you feel unwell (overly full) seems to be perceived as basically making yourself ill and why would you do that? The models were fascinating and it was really interesting to see that they are essentially the same as some technology we still use, like our modern car transmissions. It was also interesting to learn that, despite drawing them to buildable specs, some of them would not have been possible to build during his time due to limitations in technology. Below is a swing bridge he envisioned, which would allow boats to pass.
I’m usually not a big fan of wandering about the gardens at these places, but I always take a look. I headed out to the gardens and discovered that, while not traditional “gardens,” they were my favorite grounds and favorite part of Clos Luce.
First was a lovely area with chickens and a goose, plus beds that appear to be used for growing local plants and foods? I liked the old buildings; however, the bridge area was where I spent the most time. I really loved the da Vinci gardens, where they’ve taken care to plant the same types of plants that were there in that time. It was just a lovely area and encouraged a long stroll.
There are also some life-size models of a few of his inventions spread throughout the rest of the grounds, which kids really enjoyed testing out.
PROS: Stunning grounds, interesting history with da Vinci’s actual room, fascinating to see models and life-size working models of his inventions and Clos Luce really explores da Vinci as a painter, botanist, studier of anatomy & inventor
CONS: only 6 rooms out of the entire structure are really furnished for viewing, it’s the most expensive chateau by several Euro, I saw no parking near it & was glad I walked from Chateau d’Amboise
In summary, while this was the most expensive chateau I visited, it would still be on my “do not miss” list. Da Vinci is such an interesting historical figure and the grounds are expansive and stunning. I’d planned on spending about 2 hours here and was instead here for over 3 hours . . . good thing it was my last chateau of the day!