Exploring Medieval Yvoire France

During my time in Switzerland, I got to chill out in Geneva and explore the sites. Geneva is a wealthy Swiss city that’s saturated in diverse cultures and surrounded by the Alps and Jura mountains. Geneva has a vast array of sites to see, like the United Nations Building, the Reformation Wall, and Jet d’Eau, just to name a few that draw in thousands of tourists each year.

What I also like about Geneva’s location, is that it’s an ideal starting point for several excursions and day trips. One place that I never heard of till I was in Geneva is Yvoire. It’s a quaint and untouched medieval town across Lake Geneva in France. We decided to take the ferry to Yvoire and enjoy the sites along the way. It cost $33 US or 26 SFr and takes about one hour, give or take a few minutes to reach Yvoire. Along the way, the ferry stops at several little villages where passengers can board and disembark.

Copyright Marco Verch/Flickr

Waiting to get on board a passenger Ferry boat, I took several pictures of the Jet d’Eau and the hundreds of private yachts. Unfortunately, it was misty and rainy that morning, but it didn’t dampen our spirits or our day trip. The closer we got to Yvoire, the weather was clearing and the sun was beaming brightly. Sadly, some of my photos did not turn out, but thanks to other photographers, I’m able to share my experience.

Village along the way to Yvoire

Each village is peppered with charming homes with some dating back hundreds of years. It’s hard not to appreciate the unique architecture and the extent people went through to preserve these historic homes while maintaining their original splendor. It’s a labor of love that will last generations to come.

Village along the way to Yvoire

The ferry took us down the northern shore of Lake Geneva, stopping at several picturesque little Swiss villages along the way, finally making our way across to France, landing in Yvoire. It seemed the more north we went, the more sunshine we experienced. By the time we arrived in France, it was warm and beaming with sunshine.

Village along the way to Yvoire in Switzerland

Approaching Yvoire is breathtaking. The first site you see is the Chateau d’Ivoire. It was built in 1306 and played an important role in the trade route along the lake and the Alps. When the trade routes changed in the 16th century, it left Yvoire virtually unnoticed for centuries. The castle still dominates the town, but it’s now a privately owned home. The interior has not remained medieval though, it’s been lovingly revamped and fitted with all the modern amenities and comforts one could desire. It has such a stunning presence! Today thanks to tourism, Yvoire is back on the map, and a popular tourist destination that is a must-see.

Yvoire Castle
Copyright Dennis Jarvis

To me, Yvoire is the most beautiful and romantic town along Lake Geneva. This picture-perfect town was built in the early 14th century and not much has changed. They’ve taken care to preserve much of its medieval architecture and charm. They still have the old town walls, gate, ramparts and well-trodden cobblestone roads.

Village of Yvoire
Copyright Patrick Nouhailler

Walking into the town is like taking a huge step back in time. You’re almost overwhelmed with its historic ambience; you just want to savor every moment. The town gate is original, so it’s quite narrow, but back then they only used horses and wagons or walked everywhere.

Village of Yvoire
Copyright St├ęphane Dewarrat

We enjoyed walking down the quaint alleys and immersing ourselves in the flowery displays that brimmed from every home, business, and vacant spot. There were even delicate little flowers growing on the rock walls of a lot of the homes.

With only just over 800 residents, they still offer fabulous services. There are numerous restaurants where you can sit leisurely and enjoy a glass of wine and indulge in the local cuisine. There are also several cute little shops where you can pick up a unique souvenir so you’ll need to bring Swiss Francs to make your purchases.

There are several historic sites to see, the Church of St. Pancras, the La Maison d’Histoire, and the La Chataigniere. You may also want to visit the Jardin des Cinq Sens (garden of the five senses), a labyrinth of various flowers and plants that will invigorate your five senses.

Village of Yvoire at dusk
Copyright Patrick Nouhailler

Lumbering through peaceful Yvoire was an experience one doesn’t forget too quickly. Its alluring and romantic characteristics combined with its middle-age charm will put a spell on you that’s hard to describe. I’d love to go back and relive the moment. If you get the opportunity to visit Geneva and are looking for an interesting day trip, I warmly recommend visiting the spectacular village of Yvoire. Don’t forget your camera.


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