The Clos Lucé Mansion – Leonardo’s last home


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We were so stuck in traffic for a couple of days, arriving at our hotel rooms in the middle of the night, so I didn’t get a chance to post. But we’ll make up for it today!

Tip 5 for the summer is the last home of Leonardo da Vinci, at the Clos Lucé Mansion, nearby Amboise Castle, 160 km from our place.

Clos Lucé mansion

The Clos Lucé Mansion. By Azay at the Hungarian language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In 1516, Leonardo joined the court of French king François I as “The King’s First Painter, Engineer and Architect”. He then moved from Italy to the mansion Clos Lucé in the town of Amboise in the Loire valley.

Leonardo brought with him a few of his paintings, including the Mona Lisa (La Gioconda in Italian, La Joconde in French) and St. John the Baptist. And this is the reason the world’s most famous painting is to be seen in the Louvre Museum in Paris, and not in Italy.

Mona Lisa. Photograph by Dennis Jarvis. CC BY-SA 2.0

Leonardo’s Mona Lisa. One of the few paintings he brought with him to Amboise. Photograph by Dennis Jarvis. CC BY-SA 2.0

From his window he had a magnificent view of the King’s castle, the Château d’Amboise. A drawing of it, either by Leonardo himself or one of his pupils, is depicted below.

By pl: szkoła Leonarda da Vinci en: school of Leonardo da Vinci [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Drawing of the Amboise Castle. The School of Leonardo da Vinci [Public domain CC0 1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The museum

Mansion Clos Lucé is today a museum open to the public. You can visit Leonardo’s last home, see his bedroom, dining room, studio, plus several of his designs for different devices realised in 3D, both inside the house and outside in the surrounding park.


A tank designed by Leonardo. By Elliott Brown. CC BY 2.0

Leonardo’s resting place in the Chapel Saint Hubert

The Tomb of Leonardo da Vinci

The Tomb of Leonardo da Vinci in the Chapel of Saint Hubert, Amboise Castle. By Peter Dutton (originally posted to Flickr as Leonardo Da Vinci) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Leonardo lived in the Clos Lucé mansion until his death on May 2nd, 1519. He is buried in the Chapel of Saint Hubert at the neighbouring Amboise Castle.



Poland-Portugal 1-1 (110 min, 18 sec), hotel room in Groningen

Sorry, today’s post was to be about Futuroscope. But as the German Autobahn is difficult to traverse, we were stuck in traffic for hours. We missed dinner at our hotel in Groningen, and are now watching the UEFA European soccer cup with a glass of wine, after traveling Sandefjord-Groningen in one long haul. 😣 So, you’ll have to stay tuned until tomorrow to read about Futuroscope. Sorry about that! 😏⚽️☀️ 

The Ruins of the Château de l’Ebaupinay


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Tip 4 for the summer is the romantic ruins of the Castle of Ebaupinay near Le-Breuil-sous-Argenton, 14 km from our place

By Sevrein (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

The Ebaupinay ruins, by Sevrein (Own work) CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In February 1458 the knight François de Vendel was granted permission by Charlex VII, king of France, to transform his mansion l’Ebaupinay into a stronghold. Thereafter the Ebaupinay fortress (or  “maison-forte”) was inhabited until the French Révolution in 1793, when it was sacked. Later again, the timberwork and flooring where burnt out during the Vendée’s civil wars. Still, the main frame, substancially built with pink granit stones, keeps a remarquable stature.

This 15th century castle/fortress is for ruin lovers! It is situated in the middle of some fields, and with a farm as its closest neighbour. Nothing much going on around it, but it is a site well worth visiting. Bring your sketch book or your camera!

The closest towns for a snack afterwards are Argenton les Vallées or Thouars. We’ll write more about these towns later this summer.

And if you’ve got some cash to spare, this magnificent ruin could be yours!


Bioparc – Doué-la-Fontaine


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Tip 3 for the summer is the zoological garden Bioparc at Doué-la-Fontaine, situated 32 km from our place.


Red-fronted Macaw at Bioparc Zoo de Doué-la-fontaine, France. By belgianchocolate / frank wouters  derivative work: Snowmanradio CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Founded in 1961, the Bioparc is home to more than 1 000 animals from 123 different species.

41 of these species are on the IUCN’s Red List of threatened species (International Union for Conservation of Nature), classified such as Vulnerable, Endangered or Critically Endangered. Nine of the species belong to this last group, which lists the most endangered species in the world. The other species of the Bioparc are amongst the Near Threatened or Least Concern group. Thirty-six of the species benefit from European programmes of population management (EEP) that ensure their long-term survival in captivity.


The giraffes’ troglodyte enclosure, by belgianchocolate, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

The Bioparc attracts approximately 200 000 visitors each year. It is situated in a troglodyte environment and covers 38 acres. It offers two geographically organised levels, based around islands and vast animal spaces.


Snow leopard, by Vassil (Own work) [Public domain CC0 1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The Bioparc offers different types of  activities. E.g. You can spend a day with one of the zookeepers and get up close to the animals. There is a gift shop with fair trade products, as well as snack bars, and The Giraffe Camp restaurant.


View from the Bioparc de Doué-la-Fontaine, by belgianchocolate, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Bioparc mission:

  • Ignite emotion through immersion
    We call on the natural and cultural richness of the park to create atmospheres reminiscent of the animals’ natural habitats.
  • Represent species from endangered wildernesses
    Guided by our experience and our encounters, we welcome animals whose presence at the Bioparc shows the survival difficulties of their wild cousins.
  • Be implicated in their country of origin
    Throughout the world, and consistent with the human populations, we assist and support local associations dedicated to the preservation of endangered species or valued and valuable natural environments.
  • Turn the park into an exchange and awareness raising space
    We wish to pass on the values of sharing and respect from our experience with men and nature.


Tour de France 2016 passes through Angers and Saumur


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Tip 2 for the summer is the Tour de France (passing 50-60 km from our house)

Some years the Tour de France passes through our district. And  2016 is one of those years!

Running from Saturday July 2nd to Sunday July 24th 2016, the 103rd Tour de France will be made up of 21 stages and will cover a total distance of 3,535 kilometres.

  • Stage 3, Monday, July 4th: Granville / Angers (223.5 km)
  • Stage 4, Tuesday, July 5th: Saumur / Limoges (237.5 km)
Map route Tour de France 2016

The 2016 Tour de France itinerary (click on the map for more information)

You can read more about the Tour’s history on Wikipedia! We are no experts, but it’s great fun to watch live (even though they normally flash by in just a couple of minutes). This year they pass through two of our neighbouring cities: Angers and Saumur.

By Josh Hallett from Winter Haven, FL, USA (Bradley Wiggins - 2012 Tour de France) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Josh Hallett from Winter Haven, FL, USA (Bradley Wiggins – 2012 Tour de France) CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons


The beautiful city of Angers is situated 60 km north of our place. It was the medieval seat of the Plantagenet dynasty, and the castle/fortress is said to have been the favourite dwelling of Richard the Lionheart. We’ll write more about Angers later this summer, but for those interested, here are a couple of links:

La Maine traversant Angers

The river Maine running through Angers. Photographer: Denis Pithon CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Saumur is situated 50 km to the north-east of our place. It is another medieval gem of a city. The Loire river runs through its centre, and on the hillside you’ll find the Chãteau de Saumur, originally constructed in the 10th century by Theobald I, Count of Blois, as a fortified stronghold against Norman predations. The castle as it looked in 1410 is depicted on The page for September in the Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry. We will blog more about Saumur and its ancient surroundings later this summer.

A couple of links:

By Martin Falbisoner (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Panorama of Saumur by Martin Falbisoner (Own work) CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Limbourg brothers [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry, Folio 9, verso: September. By the Limbourg brothers [Public domain CC0 1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud


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Tip 1 for the summer is Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud (60 km from our house).


Abbey of Our Lady of Fontevraud (established 1101)
Photograph by Pierre Mairé, CC BY 2.5

Final resting place of legendary queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine (c.1122-1204), her sons, Richard the Lionheart (Richard Cœur de Lion) (1157-1199), and the heart of John Lackland (c. 1167-1216) (his body rests in Worcester Cathedral), plus much more of the family, the Plantagenets.


Effigy of Eleanor of Acquitaine
Photograph by ActuaLittéCC BY-SA 2.0


Effigy of Richard I, King of England (the Lionheart)
Photograph by g0ng00zlr – CC BY-SA 2.0

The abbey was founded by Robert d’Arbrissel in 1101. He was quite a character, and the monastery housed both nuns and monks. You can read more about him on Historical Ragbag’s blog.

Another Fontevraud page with lots of interesting information can be found at Paradox Place France.

So, why not visit this wonderful part of France this summer? (Or later?) 


Summer’s here – we’ll give you one tip every day


Our French home is situated in the northern part of Deux-Sèvres, actually just a couple of hundred metres south of Maine-et-Loire.

This summer we want to highlight some of the amazing things you can see and do in our “neighbourhood”, one tip each day. France is so much more than Paris and the Côte d’Azur!

So stay tuned…