Amboise is a town I have never got to grips with. Probably because the first time I went there the whole town was shut and I ended up staying at an Ibis motel rather than a character filled hotel.
There is a huge chateau at Amboise. Started in the 11th century, it became a royal palace in 1434 then was extensively rebuilt (in the 1490s and again in the 1570s) but by 1650 had been turned into a prison. By the time of the French revolution it was virtually derelict and so most of the chateau was demolished. By the 1840s the chateau was once again in private hands and a start was made on restoring it, but it was damaged again in World War Two. What now remains is basically a 19th century rebuild of about one fifth of the original.
As you can see though: from across the river it is still an impressive - and imposing - structure.
Just down the road is the Clos Lucé, a manor house where Leonardo (no-one called him da Vinci before Dan Brown) lived the last 3 years of his life. In the grounds of Clos Lucé are some recreated models of some of Leonardo's inventions.
In an island in the middle of the Loire is an island with a scattering of buildings and a campsite. It also has this statue - the French equivalent of Old Father Thames? (Apparently it is supposedly Leonardo himself, with the head of Medusa. Why?)
One thing Amboise has in abundance is tourists. It certainly seems to be a popular destination for Americans in particular and it's a bit of a puzzle to us*. It's not that there is anything wrong with the town - indeed, it is attractive - but so are many, many other small but rarely visited French towns. It has history - stuff happened at Amboise, interesting people lived in the town - but again, stuff that was just as interesting happened at places that are not packed like a sardine can full of tourists in the summer. At the moment it reminds me of a sacrificial anode - the tourists wear out Amboise while the rest of France gets on with life undisturbed.
*My theory is that at some stage Amboise appeared on US TV, either as a location in a drama or a recommended destination in a travel documentary. Certainly the same thing has happened in the the UK at places like Goathland, the setting for "Heartbeat". I have been there twice, and it is just a pretty normal Yorkshire village teeming with visitors when the villages around are empty.
Just as strange to me is my reaction to seeing on TV places I have previously visited. For some reason that not only validates the place as having been worth visiting, but also makes it more real.