If you want to see where "the 20th century was born"—as the curators here like to proclaim—head to the Clos Lucé, about 600 yards up Rue Victor-Hugo from the château. Here, in this handsome Renaissance manor, Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) spent the last four years of his life, tinkering away at inventions, amusing his patron, King François I, and gazing out over a garden that was planted in the most fashionable Italian manner (it was completely restored in 2008
to contain plants and trees found in his sketches, as well as a dozen full-size renderings of machines he designed). The Halle Interactive contains working models, built by IBM engineers using the artist's detailed notebooks, of some of Leonardo's extraordinary inventions; by this time Leonardo had put away his paint box because of arthritis. Mechanisms on display include three-speed gearboxes, a military tank, a clockwork car, and a flying machine complete with designs for parachutes. Cloux, the house's original name, was given to Anne of Brittany by Charles VIII, who built a chapel for her that is still here. Some of the house's furnishings are authentically 16th century—indeed, thanks to the artist's presence this house was one of the first places where the Italian Renaissance made inroads in France: Leonardo's Mona Lisa and Virgin of the Rocks, both of which once graced the walls here, were bought by the king, who then moved them to the Louvre.
Mar 29, 2011
One of the most interesting places we toured. All of the displays in the extensive gardens were so descriptive. Kids (probably 10 and up) would love it.