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 and despite the fact that so many years have passed, Yvoire preserved its medieval vibe. It’s packed 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… Come, let’s discover all the best things to do in Yvoire, a delightful medieval village in France.
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Yvoire, France FAQ
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.
Yes, yes, and yes. If you’re somewhere in Haute-Savoie, or Geneva/Lausanne in Switzerland don’t hesitate and visit Yvoire. It’s one of the most beautiful French villages that you shouldn’t miss. Not without a reason, over the last few years, Yvoire has become one of the most popular one-day trip destinations on Lake Geneva shores, to which thousands of people come each year.
Besides being a well-preserved and super charming medieval village, Yvoire is also well-known for being part of the prestigious list 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.
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. If possible, we also recommend visiting the village during weekdays, not weekends. Crowds are a bit smaller and sightseeing is more enjoyable.
What is the 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 20th 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 In France
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) is located 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 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 isn’t open to visitors because it’s in private hands (still Bouvier family). 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 best things to do in Yvoire is visit the Garden of Five Senses (fr. 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 €14.5, and €8 for a child. (October 2023) and can be bought online. To check out current prices and opening hours visit jardin5sens.net website.
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?
Where to park in Yvorie?
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
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 2.5h, 40min from Thonon-Les-Bains, and 1h45min from Evian-Les-Bains. To learn more about bus connections that interest you visit rome2rio.com website.
To Yvoire by boat
If you are in cities like Geneva, Nyon, or Lausanne in Switzerland you can also choose to take a ferry to Yvoire. The journey from Geneva takes about 1.5h (€29-35), 1.5h from Lausanne (€30-40) and only 20min from Nyon (€15-19). To learn more about bus connections that interest you visit rome2rio.com website.
To Yvoire by train
Unfortunately, there is no train station in Yvoire. The closest one is located in Thonon-Les-Bains, about 15km away. From there you can take a bus or taxi to Yvoire. To learn more about train connections that interest you visit sncf-reseau.com or rome2rio.com website.
Things To Do In Yvoire, Medieval Village In France – Summing up
Now you know what Yvoire medieval village is all about. It’s such a stunning place on Lake Geneva shores, isn’t it? No matter if you’ll stay only for a few hours or if you’re planning to stay longer – we’re almost sure that you’ll fall in love with it. There are many great things to do in Yvoire and its surroundings, so don’t hesitate and put it on your France bucket list. Enjoy your time in Yvoire and be sure to let us know how you liked it.
Our opinion about Yvoire, France
For us, a visit to Yvoire medieval village was a one-day trip from nearby Thonon-Les-Bains where we lived for a few weeks. We visited it in early June and during that time the village was already quite busy with many tourists. What can we say about it? We LOVED IT (yes, even despite the large number of people which we really don’t like). Right after crossing the village walls, we felt like we stepped back in time hundreds of years and it was an amazing feeling. Adding to the amazing views of Lake Geneva we got enchanted. Until this day, Yvoire is one of our favorite places in France.
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.
Accommodations photos source: booking.com