On the shores of Lake Geneva in France, lies a picturesque flower-rich medieval village called Yvoire. In 2006 the village celebrated its 700th founding anniversary. Despite the fact that so many years have passed, Yvoire preserved its medieval vibe with stone houses and wooden balconies brightly decorated with flowers. Going through the village gates is literally like going back in time hundreds of years back… Over the last years, Yvoire has become one of the most popular one-day destinations in Haute-Savoie, to which thousands of people come each year. Come, let’s discover all the best things to do in Yvoire, a delightful medieval village in France.
Oh, there’s one more thing that we have to mention! Yvoire is one of France’s most beautiful villages (Les Plus Beaux Villages de France). It’s also a 4-flower Village Fleuri since the 1950s, and in 2002 won the International Trophy for Landscape and Horticulture.
Before we start, let’s learn some more facts about the medieval village Yvoire.
- Best Things To Do In Yvoire, Medieval Village In France
- Things To Do In Yvoire Medieval Village
- How to get to the medieval village of Yvoire in France?
- Summing up the best things to do in Yvoire, France
- Restaurants, accommodations, and map
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Best Things To Do In Yvoire, Medieval Village In France
Yvoire is located in France (not Switzerland, as many think), on the southwestern shores of Lake Geneva (or how French people call it – Lac Leman), between Evian-les-Bains and Geneva, Switzerland, which both are only about 25km away. To be even more exact, Yvoire is part of the French department of Haute-Savoie, in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region.
Yvoire is beautiful all year round, but it’s exceptionally beautiful during spring and summer when it’s filled with blooming bright flowers at every step. We also recommend you to visit during weekdays, not weekends, as there are much fewer visitors, especially during the summer months.
Yes, yes, and yes. If you’re somewhere near Haute-Savoie, or Geneva in Switzerland don’t hesitate and visit Yvoire – one of the most beautiful French villages.
History of Yvoire, France
Yvoire history dates back to the beginning of the 14th century. Back then castles around Lake Geneva played an important role in protecting the trade routes through the Alps and along the lake. Yvoire’s strategic position, which lies on a peninsula between a small lake and a large lake, didn’t escape the eye of Count of Savoy, Amédée V (Amadeus V). He fortified the village by building the castle and the walls. As expected, the village played an important military role which gave its inhabitants certain rights and privileges.
Later, from 1536 to 1591, the region was occupied by the Bernese. During that time, Yvoire was looted, its fortifications dismantled, and as a result, it lost its military role.
Yvoire became forgotten and simply became a village of farmers and fishermen, and stayed this way for hundreds of years. Only the XXth century put Yvoire back on the maps. Then it started becoming a popular tourist destination thanks to its well-preserved medieval buildings.
Things To Do In Yvoire Medieval Village
Nernier Gate & Rovoree Gate: Yvoire medieval gates
Nernier and Rovoree Gates (fr. Porte de Nernier and Porte de Rovoree) date back to the 14th century. In the middle ages, they controlled access to Yvoire village. The Nernier Gate, also known as the Porte de Geneve (Geneva Gate), gives access to the village from the West. On the other side, Porte de Rovorée, also known as Porte de Thonon (Thonon Gate), gives access to Yvoire from the East.
Nowadays, these two gates will teleport you back in time hundreds of years. Just go through them and you’ll see that for yourself. Anyway, wait no more, come with us and see for yourself.
Streets of Yvoire medieval village
Welcome to the 1400s. Here, inside the traffic-free Yvoire walls, you’ll find picturesque cobbled streets full of medieval stone houses with wooden balconies, all beautifully decorated with bright flowers. Along the streets, you’ll also find a (surprisingly high) number of various restaurants, cafes, little shops, art galleries, boutiques, or souvenir shops. One of the best things to do in Yvoire is to just take a pleasant stroll, breathe in the medieval atmosphere and imagine what it would be like to live here hundreds of years ago.
While strolling in the Yvoire streets, you’ll come across some important buildings and places. Let’s learn something more about them.
Place du Thay in Yvoire
In Yvoire, all streets, sooner or later, lead to Place du Thay which is the central square of the village. It’s a very lovely place where you can rest for a minute or two in the shade of trees and observe the surroundings. Here you can also find a few restaurants, shops, and Saint Pancrace Church.
Saint Pancrace Church of Yvoire
Saint Pancrace Church of Yvoire (fr. Église Saint Pancrace d’Yvoire) is a Catholic church that dates back to the 11th century. Since then it has been rebuilt several times. Its most eye-catching element, the onion-shaped bell tower, was built between 1856-1858, in a style characterizing the 19th-century Savoyard religious architecture. In 1989, to fight the rust, stainless steel covered the bell tower. It gave it a distinct, shiny look visible from afar. Gold leaves cover the rooster and the ball at the top. The gold comes from the last gold miller in France, located in Excenevex, just 3km from Yvoire.
Saint Pancrace Church of Yvoire was classified as a Historical Monument.
Yvoire Medieval Castle
Yvoire Medieval Castle (fr. Château d’Yvoire) lies on the southern shore of Lake Geneva and dominates the village. It was built in the 14th century in typical Savoy design, very characteristic in this area. Thanks to its strategic location, between the “small lake” and the “big lake” (local names for different parts of Lake Geneva), Yvoire Castle for many years played an important military role. During the Bernese occupation (1536-1591) the castle was burnt and remained roofless for 350 years. In 1655 it was acquired by the Bouvier of Yvoire family and was finally restored between 1919-1939.
One of the best things to do in Yvoire would be to visit the castle. Unfortunately, Chateau d’Yvoire is not open to visitors because it’s in private hands. But you can admire it from different places. To take a great look at the castle go to the Port des Pecheurs. In our opinion, it’s the best place to see its glory.
Garden of Five Senses in Yvoire
One of the other things to do in Yvoire that is not that obvious is visiting the Garden of Five Senses (Jardin des Cinq Sens). Once it used to be Yvoire Castle’s vegetable garden, and it’s a garden with 1500+ various plants, specially designed to awaken and tickle all five senses. Inside you’ll find themed areas: garden of taste, garden of smell, garden of touch, garden of sight, and garden of hearing.
Garden of Five Senses in Yvoire is open from May to October. The entrance is paid – an adult ticket costs €14, and €8 for a child. (November 2022) and can be bought online. On the official website, you can also check opening hours.
There are two ports in Yvoire: Port des Pêcheurs, which is a little fishing port, and Port d’Yvoire where ferries start and finish their journey. From both, you’ll be able to enjoy stunning views over the village, castle, Swiss coastline, and mountains.
How to get to the medieval village of Yvoire in France?
Yvoire is located about 15km from Thonon-les-Bains, 25km from Geneva, and 90km from Chamonix. The most convenient way to get to Yvoire is by car, either yours or a rental.
Where to park in Yvorie, France?
There are few parking lots in Yvoire. We left our car in Parking Medieval City and paid about €5 for 3 hours (parking is only paid from May to September 15th).
Airports near Yvoire, France
The nearest airport to Yvoire is located in Geneva, Switzerland (30km away), and the next ones are located in Lyon, France (190km away) and in Basel, Switzerland (250km away).
To Yvoire by bus
You can also get to Yvoire by bus. For example, the journey from Geneva will take about 1h and will cost €3-5. From Thonon-Les-Bains the journey will take about 30 minutes and will cost €6.
To Yvoire France by boat
If you are in cities like Geneve, Nyon, or Lausanne in Switzerland you can also choose to take a ferry to Yvoire. The journey by boat from Geneva to Yvoire costs €25-35 and takes about 1.5h. Ferry from Lusanne to Yvoire also takes about 1.5h and costs €26-40. The journey from Nyon is the shortest, as it takes only 20 minutes to get to Yvoire, paying €11-16.
Summing up the best things to do in Yvoire, France
Now you understand why this medieval village is that popular and know the best things to do in Yvoire. Hopefully, you’ll get to see it with your own eyes and be able to experience how similar places have been hundreds of years ago in Medieval Ages.
Restaurants, accommodations, and map
Check out various recommended places below.
Where to eat in Yvoire?
Here are your best, high-rated options in Yvoire:
Where to sleep in Yvoire?
L’Alcôve d’Amédée V
L'Alcôve d'Amédée V is a charming and cozy bed and breakfast located in the medieval village of Yvoire, offering beautifully decorated rooms with antique furnishings, a delightful garden with a terrace and a pond, and a warm and welcoming atmosphere. With its peaceful and picturesque setting, this B&B provides a perfect option for travelers looking for a relaxing getaway.
Villa Cécile is a luxurious boutique hotel located in the heart of Yvoire offering elegant and spacious rooms and suites with refined decor and modern amenities, an outdoor pool surrounded by a beautiful garden, a spa and wellness center, and a gourmet restaurant serving creative and delicious cuisine. With its exceptional setting and upscale amenities, this hotel provides a perfect option for couples or families looking for a luxurious and unforgettable stay.
Hotel Restaurant Du Port
Hotel Restaurant Du Port is a charming hotel located in Yvoire, offering cozy and comfortable rooms with a stunning view of Lake Geneva, an on-site restaurant serving traditional French cuisine, and a lovely terrace overlooking the port. With its convenient location and warm hospitality, this hotel is an excellent choice for travelers looking for a relaxing and authentic experience in town.
Hotel Le Jules Verne
Hotel Le Jules Verne is a lovely boutique hotel featuring elegant and cozy rooms with modern amenities, an on-site restaurant serving delicious French cuisine, and a terrace with a panoramic view of Lake Geneva. With its prime location, charming atmosphere, and top-notch facilities, this hotel is an ideal choice for travelers seeking a romantic and unforgettable experience in Yvoire.
Le Pre de la Cure
Le Pre de la Cure is a delightful bed and breakfast featuring comfortable and tastefully decorated rooms, a beautiful garden with a terrace, and a hearty breakfast served daily. With its warm hospitality, tranquil ambiance, and convenient location near popular attractions, this B&B is a perfect choice for travelers seeking a peaceful and authentic experience in Yvoire.