Yvoire village is a charming medieval town in Haute Savoie, France – dating back to the 14th century. It is one of the best towns on Lake Geneva because of its medieval charm and stunning lakeside setting. Yvoire has even made it on the official list of France’s most beautiful villages (Les Plus Beaux Villages de France). 

Yvoire is approximately 30 minutes from Geneva in one direction and a 40-minute drive in the other direction from the ski region I visit several times a year. So, it is easy to combine these parts of the French Alps into your Yvoire itinerary. 

This article will tell you my top 10 recommended things to do in Yvoire.

Hotel du Port covered in vines with lakeview - walking around old town is the best thing to do in Yvoire

I have been to Yvoire at least five times and it is enjoyable each time. When I am visiting my chalet in Bernex, I always make sure I bring my friends who are new to the Haute Savoie region. I have been to Yvoire in summer and winter, on busy days, or quiet days, and I have taken dogs to Yvoire. So, I am familiar with this medieval village. 

Summary: What To Do in Yvoire

Entrance to Yvoire, brick archway with sign reading se visite a pied
Entrance to Yvoire

Here are my top 10 things to do in Yvoire.

Read on further to get a detailed explanation of each.

  1. Explore the Old Town
  2. Learn the History of Yvoire
  3. Boat Tours on Lake Geneva
  4. Yvoire Ports and Waterfront
  5. Try Local Food
  6. Photograph Yvoire
  7. Château d’Yvoire
  8. Jardin des Cinq Sens (Garden of Five Senses)
  9. Walk from Yvoire to Nernier
  10. Water Sports on Lake Geneva

Top 10 Things to Do in Yvoire Haute Savoie

There are numerous free things to do in Yvoire because the town is enjoyable for walking around and enjoying the scenery. There are also paid activities in Yvoire, such as visiting the Garden of Five Senses or sampling some of the local cuisine.

1. Explore the Old Town

Dog in front of cafe in Yvoire with plants growing up brick building

Visiting the old town of Yvoire feels like stepping back in time with its cobblestone streets, ancient buildings, and fortified walls. Enjoying the old town is one of the best things to do in Yvoire in winter.

You can spend hours exploring the quaint boutiques, charming cafes, and artisanal shops tucked away in the narrow alleys. There are plenty of opportunities to buy some souvenirs. 

Yvoire holds the esteemed status of a 4-fleurs village fleurie. This accreditation reflects its commitment to maintaining green space and flowers in public spaces, making efforts to protect the environment, having high tourist attractiveness, and with the overall aim to improve residents’ lives. 

Four stars is the maximum that can be awarded to a town, and there are only 278 destinations with four stars in France.

2. Learn the History of Yvoire

La Creperie d'Yvoire sign amongst vines with Yvoire church and bell tower
Bell Tower

Yvoire was once a humble fishing village and experienced poverty before World War II. Cows roamed its streets until 1975. It is the last town on Lake Geneva’s south shore to retain much of its heritage, including its historic ramparts. 

In the 1980s, Mayor Paul Jacquier, a fisherman’s son, envisioned redecorating the Church’s bell tower to resemble the scales of one of Lake Geneva’s fish. Thus, the tower was refitted with stainless steel scales to become a symbol of the town’s unique identity. 

If you want to learn more about Yvoire’s history, you can visit La Maison de l’Histoire, which has a model village to help you better understand the layout of Yvoire in the Middle Ages. 

La Maison de l’Histoire is open every weekend and on public holidays from 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM throughout May to June, and in September. In July and August, it is open every day from 2:00 PM to 5:30 PM. 

3. Boat Tours on Lake Geneva

Boat tour is one of the best things to do in Yvoire - boat on Lake Geneva with French flag in foreground and cloudy sky
Boat tour on Lake Geneva

Embark on a picturesque boat tour from Yvoire to see the beauty of Lake Geneva. A boat trip on Lac Leman is one of the best things to do in Yvoire with kids.

Yvoire offers ferry trips to Nyon, a town on the north side of Lake Geneva. There is also a ferry that goes from Geneva to Yvoire and takes approximately 1 hour 30 minutes. 

The Lac Léman ferries cater to commuters and tourists throughout the year. However, the frequency of services increases during summer to accommodate the increase in tourists. Check out the schedule on the CGN website for up-to-date details.

From April to October, there are 45-minute or 1-hour cruises that depart from Port de Plaisance (Yvoire’s port). It goes from Yvoire to Villa Schumacher, and then continues to Rolle, and back to Yvoire.  

Adult tickets are €19 per person. Dogs are permitted and priced at €2. You can book tickets online. 

The boat tours take place every day at 2:45 PM and 4:00 PM from May to September with a minimum of 10 people. In October they are available only on weekends and school holidays. 

There is a themed boat ride that takes place in July and August, departing from Port of Excenevex (a 5-minute drive from Yvoire). The boat passes close to Nyon and onto Rolle while a tour guide recounts tales and legends in French. 

If you are looking for a 2-hour loop that includes Montreux and other stunning towns on Lake Geneva, consider driving 45 minutes along Lake Geneva from Yvoire to Saint-Gingolph and hopping aboard the Riviera Cruise for incredible views. 

There is also a ferry from Evian to Lausanne, where you can learn the history of the Olympic Games. 

4. Yvoire Ports and Waterfront

Yvoire port with sail boats and fishing boats on water
Yvoire fishing port

Stroll down to Port de Plaisance, where you will see stunning views of Yvoire Castle, Lake Geneva, and the surrounding mountains. From this port, you can also take in the sights across the water to Switzerland

Walk along the pier at the waterfront, take photos on the rocks, and admire the boats on the water. 

Then walk to Port des Pecheurs, where you will find the fishing boats and sailing boats.

Our dogs were going crazy at the smells in this port and even tried rolling in some fishy liquid on the floor. 

5. Try Local Food

Passionfruit ice cream in cone from Une Glace à Yvoire
Ice cream from Une Glace à Yvoire

Yvoire offers the opportunity to taste a range of French cuisine.

Whether you want to try traditional Savoyard cuisine in restaurants, taste fresh seafood from Lake Geneva, or buy products from a local grocer called L’Epicierie. I bought some local Leman beers, sausage and cheese from L’Epicierie.

One of the most popular dishes in Yvoire is perch, which is traditionally served with lemon sauce, due to the abundance of this fish in Lake Geneva. 

For a sweet snack, there are several creperies and ice cream shops in Yvoire. 

6. Photograph Yvoire

Chateau d'Yvoire on the green lake on a clear day with lots of trees
Chateau d’Yvoire

Photography enthusiasts will find Yvoire the perfect destination with its endless picturesque scenery and photo spots.

Yvoire is filled with stunning flower-lined streets and colourful facades, so there are plenty of opportunities to capture the village’s charm, especially during the blooming seasons of spring and summer. 

Walk to Place du Thay and photograph the delightful square. The Saint Pancrace Church, which has been classified as a historical monument, provides an interesting artefact in the background of photos along the streets – you will notice the unique bell tower from afar.

7. Château d’Yvoire

While the Château d’Yvoire offers a picturesque backdrop for your snapshots of Yvoire, unfortunately, the castle is not open to the public as it is privately owned. This means you will not be able to explore the inside of the castle, leaving its interior a mystery. 

8. Jardin des Cinq Sens (Garden of Five Senses)

A visit to Yvoire’s renowned botanical garden, Le Jardin des Cinq Sens, or the Garden of Five Senses in English, is one of the best things to do in Yvoire. This stunning garden is famous for its wide variety of plants and offers breathtaking views of the surroundings. 

Tickets for one-hour time slots to explore the gardens are available from mid-April to early October. 

9. Walk from Yvoire to Nernier

Me holding my cocker spaniel at Yvoire port with flowers behind us
Me and Tommy

There is a 5.84 km out-and-back trail from Yvoire to Nernier. It is a good way to escape the heat and crowds during summer. If you do not want to walk the same way back, you can take the boat from Nernier back to Yvoire in the summer months.

Nernier has similarities to Yvoire; however, it is much less touristy, and it is quieter.

10. Water Sports on Lake Geneva

Port de Plaisance with sailing boats and trees in background
Port de Plaisance

Several water sports companies in the area offer a range of water sports activities on Lac Leman. 

You can try out wakeboarding, wake-surfing, water-skiing, and more. Some companies offer privately hired boats to enjoy the sunset from the safety of your boat. 

Consider companies such as Get Up Wake Club based in Yvoire and Aloha Wake Surf based a little further away in Maxilly-sur-Léman (30 minutes by car). 

If you want to swim in the lake, you can visit the sandy beach in Excenevex – a short drive from Yvoire. 

Top Tips for Visiting Yvoire, France

  • Choose Weekdays: To avoid crowds, plan your visit to Yvoire on weekdays, especially during peak times like weekends or the first sunny day after rain.
  • Pedestrian-Friendly: Cars are not allowed in the town, so you can enjoy the town without worrying about vehicles. 
  • When to Visit?: Most shops open around 10:00 AM on weekdays and some at 9:00 AM on weekends. While the main season is from April to October, Yvoire is open to visitors year-round, with reduced amenities in winter. I have visited many times on days off skiing while in Bernex.
  • Seasonal Considerations: Yvoire’s peak beauty aligns with its blooming flowers, so visiting in winter may lack some allure. Nevertheless, it remains a quaint village and is particularly enjoyable on sunny days. Expect fewer open shops and restaurants, with some operating on reduced winter hours.
  • Timings: Allow around 1 hour for a stroll through Yvoire, and allow extra time for dining and other activities such as boat tours or visits to the Gardens.
  • Facilities: There are various public toilets throughout Yvoire, such as the ones at the port near Hotel Restaurant du Port.
  • Pet-Friendly: Yvoire is dog-friendly, but keep them on a leash and check with establishments before bringing them inside. Dogs are not permitted in the Jardin des Cinq Sens.
  • Parking: There is a convenient paid car park a short walk from the town entrance. If one parking lot is full, there are several others nearby. My family often use Parking du Rampart, although the reviews show some people had issues with it.
  • Exploring by Bike: If you are interested in cycling, check out the Via Rhona website for information on cycling routes in the area.

Where to Stay in Yvoire?

Le Vieux Logis old brick building with bishes and plants
Le Vieux Logis

If you want to go to Yvoire medieval village for more than a day trip, there are some lovely accommodation options nearby.

Yvoire makes a lovely stop on your way to the French Alps by car.

Hotel du Port, which also has a restaurant worth visiting, has an incredible view across Lake Geneva. Book yourself a room with a lake view to enjoy the best of this hotel.

Alternatively, Le Vieux Logis and Villa Cécile are highly rated.

Where to Eat in Yvoire?

Hotel Restaurant du Port in Yvoire outdoor dining with flowers on lakefront
Hotel Restaurant du Port in Yvoire

I briefly touched on trying local specialties in Yvoire, but here are my recommendations on places to try.

The speciality dish at Hotel du Port (and of the region) is perch fish with lemon sauce. Perch fish are found in Lake Geneva.

I recently ate at Les Galets and it served delicious crepes and galettes (savoury crepes). I ordered a cider and it was presented in a small wooden bowl, which was cute. Les Galets had a lovely terrace and it was dog-friendly.

There are several ice cream shops in Yvoire, but we always visit the same one as it is easy to pass upon. Une Glace à Yvoire is a great ice cream shop with a tasty selection of flavours. It has a small seating area out the front and you can eat your ice cream while people-watching.

Le Bateau Ivre is one of the most popular restaurants in Yvoire and a highly-rated choice. The restaurant has an impressive menu with local dishes and tasty desserts.

Le Pré de la Cure is a restaurant featured on the Michelin Guide’s website. It is recommended for its exceptional food and great view.

What to Do Near Yvoire France?

Cows grazing on grass in front of Dent D'Oche mountain in Bernex

There are several towns on Lake Geneva that are close to Yvoire and you can combine them in your French Alps trip.

  • Nernier – the closest town to Yvoire, has similarities visually to Yvoire.
  • Evian – mineral water source, lovely old town with quaint shops
  • Bernex – go hiking or take the chairlift up for lunch on the mountain
  • Montreux – known for the Montreux Jazz Festival, but there is so much more to do. Freddie Mercury statue, Chateau de Chillon (Little Mermaid)
  • Geneva – Jvisit et d’Eau water fountain, waterfront trail, luxury shops, and the Patek Philippe watch shop
  • Thonon-Les-Bains – take the funicular to get a view of the harbour and lake, visit Château de Ripaille
  • Annecy: known for its spectacular lake and old town

Is Yvoire Worth Visiting?

Yes, Yvoire is worth visiting for its blend of historical charm, natural beauty, and culinary delights. With its well-preserved medieval old town, stunning views of Lake Geneva, and renowned Jardin des Cinq Sens, the village is a unique experience for travellers in the French Alps.

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