Yvoire, one of France’s most beautiful villages
Untouched at the end of the Middle Ages, the stronghold was subjected to violent assaults at the end of the 16th century by the armies of Geneva and France. Its 13th-century castle was then burnt down and remained roofless for 3 1/2 centuries, the symbol of a fallen military power. Yvoire once again became a simple fishing village on Lake Geneva. However, the village of Yvoire still retains many vestiges of its defensive past: fortified ramparts and gates, deep ditches and medieval residences. With the development of tourism, the town took on a new face in the 1950s and became famous for its remarkable flower display. Today, it has been awarded the “Ville Fleurie” label (4 flowers) and a silver medal in the European Flower Competition. It is also classified as one of the “Most Beautiful Villages in France”. Located 25 kilometers from Geneva, it is one of the most visited sites in Haute-Savoie.
Visits and places of interest in Yvoire
Yvoire’s heritage is immense. Among the town’s architectural and historical treasures are the 14th-century fortified gates of Nernier and Rovorée. The 13th-century château, a former fortress inhabited since the 17th century by the Savoyard Bouvier d’Yvoire family, underwent extensive restoration in the 20th century. Unlike other castles and historic monuments, its interiors and keep are not open to visitors. However, its former kitchen garden has been transformed into a pleasure garden open to the public: in the heart of the village, this Garden of the Five Senses, landscaped in the style of medieval lost paradises, is listed as a Remarkable Garden of France. Its 2,500 m2 form a labyrinth of old roses, fountains, aviaries, herbs and fruit trees. Among the village’s other remarkable buildings is the Saint-Pancrace church, built in the 13th century and topped in the mid-19th century by a bulbous bell tower now emblematic of the village. The shores of Lake Geneva are a particularly charming part of Yvoire: below the ramparts, there’s a sublime panoramic view of the château towering above the waters. Swans gather here to add to the scenic beauty of this ancient medieval town with its breathtaking views over Lake Geneva.
Activities in Yvoire
The flower-lined streets of Yvoire’s medieval village are alive with arts and crafts workshops: glassmakers, art galleries, souvenir stores, local produce stores and inviting terraces invite you to stroll. Guided tours of the village reveal many of its secrets, often off the beaten track. The Maison de l’Histoire exhibits models and precious documents testifying to the 700-year history of the fortified village. In the grounds of the château, the Cinq Sens garden is a must-see for a poetic family retreat. It can be visited freely, with a guide, or with a fun quiz booklet for children. On the lake side, the port of Yvoire is the departure point for Compagnie Générale de Navigation shuttles linking the village to other towns on Lake Geneva, such as Geneva, Nyon and Lausanne. Other companies offer cruises on the lake, such as the solar-powered shuttle Le Foué, which invites you to take a quiet cruise off Yvoire. For more sporting activities, head to the Easy2ride wake and surf academy, for sessions in water skiing, kneeboarding, wakeboarding, wakesurfing and towed buoys! Of course, take a stroll along the lakefront in this small village surrounded by mountains that look like a nature park!