It was on the invitation of François I that Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519), aged 64, took up residence at this grand manor house (built 1471). An admirer of the Italian Renaissance, the French monarch named Da Vinci 'first painter, engineer and king's architect', and the Italian spent his time here sketching, tinkering and dreaming up ingenious contraptions. Fascinating models of his many inventions are on display inside the home and around its lovely 7-hectare gardens.
Visitors see rooms where Da Vinci worked and the bedroom where he drew his last breath on 2 May 1519. There is also a free iPhone/iPad app (see the website for links). From Monday to Friday in July and August, you can take an hour-long tour (€3.90) in English; call 02 47 57 55 78 for details. The 500th anniversary of Da Vinci's death will be commemorated in 2019.