DaVinci's Garden

This is a favorite old post, created before I was on Blogger. I repeat it here to save & catalog it on this new site. Sorry if you've read it before.

DaVinci brought with him a little bit of Tuscany when he moved to Clos-Lucé Manor House, Amboise, France, at the end of his life and created this garden, a couple hours southwest of Paris, in the Loire Valley. The Mona Lisa hung in this house for a while. It seemed so anachronistic to think DaVinci lived here. I always picture him in Italy doing renaissance-y things for the wealthy–not in France, in a medieval manor house in the country. Of course, the house is now a museum filled with to-scale reproductions of some of his inventions, crated by IBM. Completed with requisite café and gift shop, natch.

Leonardo said, “A well filled day gives a good sleep. A well filled life gives a peaceful death.” After only three years here, he died in 1519 and is buried in the Chapelle St. Hubert on the manor grounds

After having read the books on secret messages hidden in Da Vinci’s artworks, I wonder if there’s a secret message designed into this garden for us to decipher.

FAVORITE THING: Knowing I was in rooms where one of the world’s greatest artists, a genius visionary, lived. He died in the bedroom, which is part of the self-guided tour. It gave me chills.

Beyond the manor house is a very pleasant trail through the woods. Along the trail are exhibits relating to the woods and Da Vinci’s works and experiments. His famous square-ish parachute hangs from a tree. His military tank was created full size and is a blast to play in. There are audio stations, as well as interpretive signs at each of the 12 interactive sites in the woods.

If you'd like to see other photos of the house & woods, please visit here.

Know any genius gardeners?

Clos-Lucé official website


  1. I had not read this post earlier, and found it interesting to think about standing in the very bedroom where he died! He was such a world reknowned individual...it would be mind-blowing! I have been to Italy and France, but not to this area. Very lovely!

  2. Jim .. I would feel a chill as well. I did a few times when we toured places in Europe while living in Holland .. being in countries that have such a long eventful history does make you think .. our countries are babies compared to them .. I would have loved to see this place !

  3. Thank you so much for this post, Jim! I didn't even know such a garden exists. I will put it on my travel list.

  4. Jan,
    If you ever get back to France, I highly recommend the Loire Valley. We spent a week there going from chateau garden to chateau garden and couldn't get enough. Da Vinci's garden was the smallest of all we saw that week.

    I have a trove of photos from Holland I've had for a couple years I've not yet posted. Mostly gardens facing the canals we cruised on. Unfortunately, they would not let us take pictures inside Da Vinci's house.

    It's still on my travel list - and I've been there!

  5. da Vinci was a man ahead of his times. It shouldn't surprise me that he was a gardener also, though one never hears about that. Thanks for the virtual visit.

  6. My older brother's an artist, oil paintings of nature and what not. I'm no genius, but does Master Gardener count for anything? ;~)

  7. Jim,

    As you know, I'm an enthusiast of France, Italy and England -- thanks for sharing stories and photos from your inspiring trips.

    We looked into adding the Loire Valley for our upcoming trip to Paris, but it was cost prohibitive with the train and short-term car rental. A 1-2 day car rental in the Loire turns out to be more than we paid for 7 days in the Cote d'Azur last year. We'll go to the Loire another time when we can spend a week there.


  8. Mrs. MD,
    I'm not sure if Da Vinci got out there and did his own weeding. He was here at the end of his life, and I'm sure the gardener(s) took care of it all. But that in no way means that by commissioning a garden of his own design , he is no less a garden appreciator.

    Master gardener is one thing, genius gardener is another. They don't have levels of gardener like belt colors in karate or weight classifications in boxing, do they? They should. I'd be a lightweight gardener.

    You have to have a car in the Loire Valley. It's the country and everything is pretty far apart. If you're into day trips from Paris - it's Giverny (you can take a bus) and Versailles. But staying close to Paris for a week doesn't suck either. But then there's day trips to Champagne, and Burgundy, and...

  9. Gee Jim, it's nice, but it's no Buffalo. My favourite garden genius is Frank Cabot & his garden north of Quebec City Les Quatre Vents - which unfortunately is no longer going to be open to the public. Glad I was able to visit it.

  10. Barbarapc,
    Well, not everyone can have a garden as nice as a Buffalo garden, but it's good for people like Da Vinci to try.

  11. What a beautiful parterre. And I love the "faces" in the trees. Hope that you took some time out for wine sampling? Both in France and Germany!

  12. It's interesting to see the garden here, orderly, structured, something like I'd guess the Renaissance mind would be, something that I can imagine seeing in Leonardo's work.

  13. Salix,
    I would love to have some of those face panels in my yard- just to block out the neighbors more. And yes, Wine was had no mater where we went.

    It's very "of the times" in both Italy and France. The significant gardens were very formal.

  14. There is a movie with a Cinderella theme (filmed in the Loire Valley) in which the "fairy godmother" character is DaVinci during the era he lived in France. Rather a charming concept and great castles and gardens. It's called "Ever After."

  15. Ms. Wiz,
    I saw that! Didn't know it was filmed there. I'll have to see it again.


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