Saturday, July 23, 2011


We took a blessed break from our cycling today (in keeping with the Tour de France) and enjoyed the town of Amboise. We visited the chateau, saw the home Da Vinci lived in for the three years before his death, shopped along the little streets with Mick Jagger and enjoyed the day.

The chateau here has quite a bit of history. The Valois kings, who proceeded the Bourbons as leaders of France must have held the court here. It wasn’t until later that the court moved to Paris and then Versailles. Anne of Brittany lived here with her husband, Charles VIII. We remember her because her marriage to Charles meant the area of France known as Brittany joined France. She wasn’t too thrilled with the marriage and several concessions were made, including that roads in Brittany would never be taxed. This was a serious contract because the roads in Brittany remain toll free even today. As drivers, we appreciated Anne’s canniness. We remember Charles VIII because he hit his head on a doorjamb while walking to watch a tennis match with Anne and died some hours later. Tall, but not swift. Sadly for Anne, the contract with France maintained she had to bear a child with the king and since Charles died, she was forced to marry his successor.

The Chateau Amboise also saw Leonardo da Vinci when Francois I (salamander boy) invited him to stay there. Leonardo moved his residence (along with the Mona Lisa) to Amboise and lived in a large house close to Francois I, called “Clos de Luce”. I don’t know who Luce is ‘cause it was “close to Francois” as far as we could see. In fact, there was a secret tunnel beneath in his house that led directly to the Chateau so the king could come and go as he pleased. Francois I REALLY liked Leonardo and was at his deathbed when he passed away.

The Clos de Luce was lovely but it was the park behind that was really fun. They had taken many of the inventions Leonardo drew in his sketchbooks and built models of them. There were smaller models in the basement of his house but then lifesize models were throughout the park. We paddled around in the paddleboat he invented. We worked the Archimedes Screw he was fascinated with. We tried to get his swivel bridge swiveling but I think it was more of a visual thing. In all, the park was lots of fun and would have been the high point of the day if we hadn’t bumped into Mick Jagger.

We were strolling up the main drag popping in and out of the stores when I heard a loud voice with a strong British accent. I glanced over and thought, “Wow, that looks like Mick Jagger” and turned to Tom to tell him. Tom ran back down the street to check it out and sure enough, it WAS Mick Jagger. First Rick, now Mick! So we move in odd circles or what? Mick was wearing a lavender sweater, baseball cap and sunglasses. He was with two boys about 10 years old or so and another older male. I had looked hard at the other male to see if I recognized him but he didn’t ring any bells. Julia wanted to see him so we turned around and strolled back up the street until she could get a look. By that point there was a buzz in the street and we could hear other people talking about him. Little groups were forming as people waited to stare. It must be really frustrating to be constantly living in a fishbowl. We discussed asking him to sing “Ruby Tuesday” for the camera so we could bring it home to Ruby but decided he might not take to that too well. Sorry Ruby.