Le Chateau d' Amboise ©
On the banks of the Loire, 20 miles (32km) east of Tours, is the Renaissance town of Amboise, a popular holiday destination. Both historic and beautiful, Amboise attracts tourists by the busload, but this doesn't detract from its charm. It has been the favourite residence of Leonardo de Vinci, Charles VIII and more recently Mick Jagger, who owns a nearby château.
Charles VIII's château dominates the town and is an impressive fusion of Renaissance and Gothic styles that is built on a rocky spur separating the valleys of the Loire and the Amasse. The original 15th-century entrance opens onto a terrace with a panoramic view of the river. The castle fell into decline after the revolution and less than half of the original structure still stands. However, many grandly furnished rooms remain, including the Kings' apartments, which are open to holiday visitors.
Leonardo da Vinci was invited to Amboise by François I to encourage the French Renaissance. He made his home at the Clos-Lucé, which is now a museum to his work with 40 models based on his drawings on display - including flying machines and a wooden tank. To the east of Amboise are some children's museums, including the Mini-Châteaux, a two-hectare (five-acre) park with models of the great Loire château. An excellent aquarium is also situated nearby.