CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to France Magazines today CLICK HERE

Yvoire: an insider’s guide

PUBLISHED: 09:12 10 July 2018 | UPDATED: 09:28 10 July 2018

A view of the harbour and the château in Yvoire © Sarenac Thinkstock

A view of the harbour and the château in Yvoire © Sarenac Thinkstock


The medieval village of Yvoire in Haute-Savoie stands on the shore of Lake Geneva and is one of France’s Plus Beaux Villages. Here’s our insider’s guide to things to do, see and visit in Yvoire

As well as being a Plus Beau Village, Yvoire is an award-winning Ville Fleurie and is also known as la Perle du Lac Léman (the Pearl of Lake Geneva). Situated at the northern tip of the presqu’île de Léman (Leman peninsula), Yvoire, situated in the Haute-Savoie department of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, separates the two main parts of Lake Geneva, the petit lac and the grand lac. This strategic position was recognised by Amadeus V, Count of Savoy in the 14th century, and Yvoire went on to play an important military role in the war between the Dauphiné and Savoy.

Fortifications including a castle and ramparts were built to protect the village, and access was controlled via the Porte de Rovorée and Porte de Nernier gateways.

Originally built in the 11th century, the St Pancrace church has a distinctive onion-shaped dome that was added to the top of the bell tower in 1854. The steeple was later covered in stainless steel and the weathervane in gold leaf, and with the sun glinting off the top it shines like a lighthouse on the lake.

Flower-bedecked buildings line the harbour where fishing boats bob gently in the water, and where the passenger ferry from Nyon and Geneva arrives. The area within the village walls is only accessible on foot, and the lack of vehicles only adds to the village’s old-world charm. Artisan craft shops, ateliers and boutiques line the lanes and the central main square, Place du Thay.

Artisan shops and boutiques line the village lanes © Patrick Nouhailler Creative CommonsArtisan shops and boutiques line the village lanes © Patrick Nouhailler Creative Commons


Don’t miss

Auvergne-Rhônes-Alpes region guide

Beautiful villages in France to explore


What to see and do in Yvoire

The Jardin des Cinq Sens is a sensory garden © JARDIN5SENS YVOIREThe Jardin des Cinq Sens is a sensory garden © JARDIN5SENS YVOIRE

To learn more about the history of Yvoire, visit la Maison d’Histoire at the heart of the village. Educational and interactive, it opened in 2006 and includes model replicas and an exhibition of historical documents. The tourist office offers guided tours of the village which includes a visit to the museum.

Take a tour around the lake on a solar-powered boat and enjoy the full impact of the spectacular view of Yvoire and the Presqui’ile de Léman from afar, while learning more about the village’s history from the guided commentary. Open April to October. Adult ticket €9.50, children under three free.

There is a designated foot and cycle path that leads from Yvoire to the Domaine de Rovorée, a 24-hectare nature park on the shore of Lake Geneva. Situated to the east of Yvoire and a leisurely 20-minute walk from the village, this protected area is a haven for wildlife and boasts a centuries-old forest of chestnut trees.

The imposing château that stands guard over Yvoire and Lake Geneva has been privately owned since 1655 and is not open to the public, but the castle’s former kitchen garden is now home to the Jardin des Cinq Sens, which welcomes over 600,000 visitors each year (adult entrance ticket €12). This picturesque sensory garden features some 1,300 varieties of plants, all carefully chosen to appeal to the five senses, and the maze-inspired design creates themed ‘rooms’ that encourage visitors to see, smell, touch, taste and listen as they move through the grounds.


Don’t miss

7 beautiful gardens to visit on the Côte d’Azur

Which French village is your favourite?


Restaurants in Yvoire

Restaurant des Pêcheurs was the first restaurant on the French side of Lake Geneva to serve perch fillets with the now-famous lemon butter sauce – the recipe was created in 1954 by then-owner and founder Alice Duchêne. This traditional local speciality is still on the menu, alongside plenty of other fresh fish and seafood dishes.

If lunch or dinner with a view is what you’re looking for then you won’t be disappointed at Pré de la Cure, which overlooks the lake. Although dishes featuring pork, lamb and beef will keep meat eaters happy, the emphasis is very much on fish – as you might expect given the restaurant’s waterside setting. Set menus range from €20. Rooms are also available (doubles from €105).

Hotels in Yvoire

The four-star Le Jules Verne has 17 guest rooms offering spectacular views of Lake Geneva. Some of the rooms have a private terrace or balcony, and the hotel’s facilities include two restaurants, a spa and clothes shop. Double rooms from €160.

Established in 1820, Hotel**** Restaurant du Port overlooks the harbour and has seven rooms, a restaurant, a children’s play area, outdoor swimming pool and spa. It also offers a babysitting service and has a private garage. Double rooms from €220.


Like this?

You might also like:

Sarlat-la-Canéda: an insider’s guide

Auxerre: an insider’s guide

Article by France Magazine France Magazine

More from Travel

Friday, December 7, 2018

These welcoming and wonderful Christmas markets are just a short trip across the Channel away, so what are you waiting for?

Read more
Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Discover the Christmas delights of northern France with our top five Christmas markets in the region

Read more
Wednesday, November 28, 2018

From lakeside jazz festivals to chestnut fairs, get stuck in with these events taking place across France in December 2018

Read more
Thursday, November 22, 2018

You can ditch the airport queues and long drives, and hit the rails instead, says Daniel Elkan. The French Alps has an abundance of ski resorts that suit families, easily accessed by train.

Read more
Monday, November 19, 2018

Budget travellers can pay nothing to stay at bed and breakfasts around the world during Barter Week in exchange for manual, creative or teaching activities

Read more
Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Find out when your favourite French ski resort opens and closes this year and start planning your ski trip to France

Read more
Winter trips
Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Find out what events are taking place in France to commemorate the Armistice centenary.

Read more
Friday, October 26, 2018

The full route of the 2019 Tour de France was announced in Paris on 25 October

Read more
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

From hot air balloon gatherings to scallop festivals, there’s always something fun and unique going on in France in November

Read more
Monday, October 22, 2018

Visit historic cities, Western Front battlefields and Unesco heritage sites on a journey through Hauts-de-France

Read more
Subscribe for

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

France Forum

Questions about France? Visit our free France forum to get help and advice from thousands of other Francophiles and expats. Topics include: property, tax, law, travelling, pets, education, healthcare and much more.

Join the forum

Most Read

Join us on social media

France magazine
Living France magazine
French Property News magazine

Enter our competitions

Win books, DVDs, travel and even holidays in France in our great competitions! Take a look at our latest competitions…

Enter now