A gem of a village | Yvoire Haute-Savoie

Written by on January 12, 2018 in Rhône Alpes

Colourful street with flowers in boxes on walls, gardens and stairs in Yvoire Haute-Savoie

When it comes to beautiful villages, France has more than its fair share. Despite visiting so many of them over the years, I’m still frequently blown away by the charm and beauty that these French villages possess. One such village is Yvoire in the Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes region.

Is Yvoire France’s most beautiful village?

A member of the Les Plus Beaux Villages de France (Most beautiful villages of France) organization, Yvoire has all the attributes that make it a must-visit in my book.

Beautiful architecture – tick
A picturesque setting – tick
Tidy streets – tick
A castle or medieval ruins – tick

A picture-perfect setting

Set on the shores of Lac Leman (Lake Geneva), the best way to arrive at Yvoire is by boat. Paddle steamers and ferries operate regular services to and from Geneva.  As you approach the village, you’ll catch sight of the 14th century Castle with its steep, turreted roof, which keeps watch over the lake.

If you’re lucky enough to be arriving in the warmer months, the picturesque jetty will greet you with flower boxes brimming with red geraniums.

Once ashore, the village winds its way up from the pretty lakefront, where you’ll find numerous hotels and eateries and a small marina filled with boats of all shapes and sizes.  From here, cobbled streets lined with well-kept stone houses and shops await you.

Although its inclusion in Les Plus Beaux Villages de France association means Yvoire is a tourist magnet, it’s still possible to wander the streets and browse the shops without feeling overwhelmed, even in high season. I would recommend you try to avoid visiting on a weekend during the summer months, though.

There are a few shops that sell that usual tourist tat but most retailers offer artisan products such as ceramics, paintings and glassware. A purchase from one of these ateliers makes the perfect souvenir of Yvoire.

The French Flower Village

Flowers are very important to the villagers of Yvoire and the town is commonly referred to as the ‘French flower village’. Wandering the narrow streets (particularly from Spring through to Autumn), you’ll see a riot of colourful blooms spilling from window ledges and balconies.

In 1959 the village won first prize in a national competition for best kept villages and in 2002 it was awarded the International Trophy for Landscape and Horticulture.

The flower theme has recently been taken one step further with the opening of the Five Senses Garden. This botanical garden, housed in the former kitchen garden of the Yvoire castle, is a real delight to visit.

Different areas of the garden encourage you to use your different senses to experience the plants growing within. There are plants grown for their smell, their texture, their medicinal purposes, and those that attract insects that you can hear buzzing away.

It’s a restful place to sit and reflect.

Yvoire’s Medieval history

Whilst it’s not possible to visit the castle that greeted you on arrival, there are numerous good vantage points nearby for taking photos. A smaller harbour, Port des Pecheurs, close to the castle, is a great spot to photograph this impressive building with the benefit of having the lake in the picture, too!

Towards the top of the village you’ll see the onion-shaped steeple of the Church of Saint-Pancrace. The church, on Place du Thay, is believed to date back to the 11th century, and whilst the steeple is not the original, it has been restored to reflect the steeples of the day.

Also at the top of the village are the remains of the original town gates and fortifications. Yvoire is a car-free village so visitors arriving by car must park just outside the village and enter on foot through one of the two gates.

After a few hours ambling around the narrow, pedestrian-only streets and admiring the stunning floral displays, you’ll be left in no doubt as to why Yvoire is regarded as one of the most beautiful villages in France.

Carolyn Schonafinger is the founder and editor of Holidays to Europe she travels to Europe annually and loves sharing her travel tips and destination ideas with her readers.

Related Articles

The wonders of Mirmande Drome Provence

Mirmande in the region of Drome, Provence, is one of those French fairy tale villages. Perched on a hill top between Montélimar and Valence, it’s both medieval and fortified and winds its way up the hill to the Roman style church of Sainte Foy at the top. It’s one of the Plus Beaux Villages de […]

Continue Reading

Fabulous Flaine in the French Alps is great for skiers at all levels

It’s in the impressive shadow of the snow-capped Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the beautiful, French Alps, that you’ll find the ski resort of Flaine. Located in the Haute Savoie region, and part of the Grand Massif ski-ing area, Flaine has earned itself the nickname of “big snowy bowl”, as it boasts one of […]

Continue Reading

Meeting the makers of Legendary Reblochon cheese in Haute Savoie

“This is a little corner of Paradise” says the old lady throwing her arms wide and indicating at the window of her farmhouse in the mountains of Haute Savoie, not far from Annecy. We are sitting in her kitchen on a July afternoon and it is unseasonably cloudy – a rarity for this month she […]

Continue Reading

3 cities perfect for Autumn visits in France

Paris in Autumn Hot chocolate in cafés that have a warm glow at dusk, golden leaves floating gently down on wide avenues and rosy sunsets. Rainy days when museums beckon, steaming hot coffee and croissants and walking on frosty cobble stones. And don’t forget Nuit Blanche, the big event of the season held every first […]

Continue Reading

Head to Morzine France to learn French and ski!

A week in Morzine – it’s not all about the snow The Portes du Soleil area is one of the largest ski areas in the world. It includes 13 resorts (both Swiss and French) and roughly 650 km of marked ski and snowboard runs. There are 14 valleys and nearly all of the runs are […]

Continue Reading


If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.

Subscribe via RSS Feed

Comments are closed.