Château Royal d’Amboise

Top choice in Amboise

Perched atop a rocky escarpment above town, Amboise's castle was a favoured retreat for all of France's Valois and Bourbon kings. Only a few of the château's original structures survive, but you can still visit the furnished Logis (Lodge) – Gothic except for the top half of one wing, which is Renaissance – and the Flamboyant Gothic Chapelle St-Hubert (1493), where Leonardo da Vinci's presumed remains have been buried since 1863. The ramparts afford thrilling views of the town and river.

Charles VIII (r 1483–98), born and bred here, renovated parts in the radical new Renaissance style, so recently imported from Italy. In 1560, an unsuccessful attempt by Huguenots to seize power from the ultra-Catholic Guise faction was brutally suppressed, with 1200 summary executions and rebel corpses hung on hooks from the château's façade. The defeated Algerian anti-colonial leader Abd el-Kader was imprisoned here with a large entourage from 1848 to 1852.

Brochures are available in 16 languages, audioguides in 12. An audioguide for children is available in English and French. Kids aged 10 to 15 may enjoy the interactive tablet-computer circuit (in French with English subtitles; €5), set in the year 1518. The château hosts lots of cultural events (eg concerts).