Here we are at the Château du Clos Lucé. This castle was built in 1471 and has the honour of being the final home of Leonardo da Vinci. (As well as home to other Kings and royalty beforehand, but what did they ever invent? Yeah, exactly.)
In 1516, King François I, a huge fan of Leonardo's, invited the scientist to come and live at the castle (the King lived at the nearby Château d'Amboise).
Leonardo live here for the last three years of his life with an allowance and his works financed by the King.
Leonardo da Vinci
A true admirer, all the King asked for in return was to be able to talk to Leonardo, which he apparently did nearly every day.
Guess which painting Leo brought with him when he moved in?
Oh yes he did
The castle is nicely decked out in period furniture:
In the basement is the model room, which shows scale models of some of Leonardo's many inventions.
A model of a military tank designed by da Vinci.
In the basement there is also the secret passage that's said to lead to the Château d'Amboise. The King would use it to pop in for a visit when he couldn't be bothered getting out amongst the peasants.
The castle is indeed lovely, but the highlight (especially for the kids) is the extensive gardens around the residence. Parc Leonardo da Vinci contains several life sized versions of his inventions, set up for interaction.
Here's the tank again, this time built as one of those merry-go-round things you sit in and spin until centrifugal forces push your brains out your ears and vomit out your nose. Fun!
Leonardo was a prolific inventor. Just a small portion of his inventions are represented in this room of little models, just outside the castle.
Can you imagine how awesome a sewing machine Leonardo could invent were he alive today?
Quite the architect (as well as artist, engineer, twelve-time strip poker champion) Leonardo was also keen on designing staircases. Although not proven, most folks think that he designed the famous double helix staircase at François I's Chambord castle.
Another of Leonardo's designs, this time a bridge over a pond:
Where this poor duck and her mate were being harassed by a rather vicious fish:
At exactly 11:55am the two ducks hopped out of the pond:
And waddled over to the café next door just in time for lunch at midday.
After lunch, we spent the afternoon wandering through the gardens:
I loved this 15th century pigeon house in the grounds.
Square on the outside and octagonal on the inside, it has 1000 little niches for pigeon pairs to live in.
Pigeons were serious chi-ching back in the day. You could eat or sell the pigeons and their eggs, plus they produced lots of quality fertiliser for the owner's veggie gardens.
The kids got a good work out on the playground:
We all played 'spot the Leonardo invention' as we went around:
I suggested that perhaps we also get a life size drawing of a naked man to hang in our garden, but my suggestion didn't make it through the committee.
I'm just trying to bring more science into our lives, that's all.
So, that was the Château du Clos Lucé - a visit definitely recommended for families and those interested in the fascinating life of the great Leonardo da Vinci.