It was to the royal palace of Chateau Amboise in 1514 that Francois I brought an ageing but still magnificent Leonardo da Vinci, installing him nearby in the smaller Chateau du Clos-lucé. Amboise’s luminous limestone facade, towers and terraces sit above the western Loire, dominating the town below and giving great views over the famous river. French royal children were traditionally brought up here while their parents gallivanted between battles, mistresses and other chateaux. Da Vinci himself was said to roam freely, during his patron’s many absences, through the many royal apartments so sumptuously recreated today, taking advantage of his royal patron’s invitation to ‘dream, think and work’ in complete freedom right up until his death here in May 1519. This Christmas, those same rooms will see a host of angels, installed throughout the staterooms as part of Amboise’s special exploration of Christmas traditions from the Renaissance to the present day. Nearby at Clos-lucé, the Saint-bris family have created a riveting testament to da Vinci’s inventiveness with open-air trails showcasing dozens of larger than life models such as the first aeroplane, a revolving bridge and a helicopter. There are family activities and, this December, an in-depth look into da Vinci’s dreams of flight.