Grands Châteaux of the Loire and Ile-de-France: Château d’Amboise

Grands Châteaux of the Loire and Ile-de-France: Château d’Amboise

Live from France with Jean-Louis Sureau

Thursday, January 21 at 12:00 p.m.
$8 Members / $15 Non-members
Online via Zoom · In French with summaries in English

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12:00 p.m. (Chicago) • 1:00 p.m. (Miami)  7:00 p.m. (Paris) 

$70 Members, series of 11 lectures  • $135 Non-members, series of 11 lectures

Our series inviting you to visit ten Grands Châteaux live from France continues! Today Russell Kelley explores the history of the Château d’Amboise with its Italian touch in the company of its former director Jean-Louis Sureau.

After the Hundred Years War formally ended with the Treaty of Picquigny in 1475, the austere, fortified Loire Valley châteaux of the Middle Ages were soon replaced by the more elegant châteaux of the Renaissance. The Château d’Amboise, built on a rock spur overlooking the Loire river first fortified during the Gallo-Roman period and owned by the crown since 1434, was one of the earliest to undergo this transition. The turning point occurred when the young King Charles VIII – who was born at Amboise in 1470, lived there with his young wife Anne de Bretagne, and died there in 1498 – fought the first Italian War of 1494-1495 where he was dazzled by the refinement of the Italian art and architecture he discovered there. He returned from Italy with architects, artisans and gardeners, and the determination to transform the Château d’Amboise into a luxurious residence in the new Italian style. Charles’s successor Louis XII added a Renaissance wing to which Louis’s successor Francis I, who grew up at Amboise, added a second story.  After his famous victory over Swiss troops at Marignano outside Milan in 1515, the young King Francis I brought back another Italian artist of renown – Leonardo da Vinci – who spent the last three years of his life as Francis’s guest at the Clos Lucé, a manor house close by the Château d’Amboise, bringing his unfinished masterpiece the Mona Lisa with him.  

Jean-Louis Sureau is currently Heritage and Gardens Consultant at the Château Royal d’Amboise, after serving as its Director and the General Secretary of the Fondation Saint-Louis, which manages the Château d’Amboise, for 24 years.


A board member of the Alliance Française Miami Metro, Russell Kelley is the curator and moderator of the lecture series on the Grands Châteaux of the Loire and Ile-de-France. He is author of The Making of Paris: The Story of How Paris Evolved from a Fishing Village into the World’s Most Beautiful City, to be published by Globe Pequot Press in March 2021. He has lived in France for nearly 30 years and has visited every château featured in this series many times since his first visit to the Loire Valley 50 years ago..

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This program is presented in partnership with the Alliance Française Miami Metro with communication support from the Federation of Alliances Françaises USA, the French Heritage Society, and WICE - Paris.

Through our Entrée Libre initiative, free admission to this program is offered to students enrolled in French Studies in universities and French schools in Chicago and the Midwest. This project is partially supported by a CityArts Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events.