What to do in Yvoire – A Must Visit Medieval Town in France

James | June 13th, 2023
Photos by Retreat To The Alps

When visiting Morzine we highly recommend you also spend some time exploring other local towns and the medieval town of Yvoire is at the top of our list. With plenty of things to see, places to eat and history to learn about, Yvoire is a firm favourite of ours at The Farmhouse. 

History and Horticulture in Yvoire 

Situated on the French shores of Lake Leman (aka Lake Geneva), Yvoire is a former fishing village that is now a popular tourist hotspot. Also known as the “pearl of the lake”, Yvoire was fortified in the 14th century. Defended by impenetrable walls, arrow slits and large gateways,  Yvoire’s castle housed a garrison charged with the job of watching over traffic on the lake. 

Nowadays the village boasts beautifully preserved stone buildings, dating back to its medieval origins which stand along the water’s edge. Yvoire is also renowned for its flora and fauna and, in the summer, flowers and plants climb the walls and intertwine through wooden balconies, turning the town into a picture perfect postcard. 

In the centre of the village you will find the crown jewel of Yvoire’s horticulture. Known as The Garden of Five Senses, here you will encounter a kaleidoscope of colours, ripe fruits for tasting and the sweetest of smells. 

The Best Time of Year to Visit Yvoire

Yvoire is a charming place to visit at any time of year, but it is worth considering the characteristics of each season so you don’t turn up in winter expecting flowers and end up finding frost!

Spring and Autumn 

At the Farmhouse we think the low seasons of Spring and Autumn are best for visiting the town of Yvoire. Not only will it be much less crowded but if you go on the edges of the summer months you should still see some of the town’s famous greenery. In spring especially, you can expect to see the early blooming of flowers as well as gently increasing footfall!


Considered to be one of the most beautiful villages in France, Yvoire is one of the most popular towns to visit in the Haute Savoie. This means if you go in the summer you must be prepared for A LOT of tourists. However, they are there for a reason and that’s because in the summer Yvoire blossoms into a buzzing hub of vibrance and sunshine. We recommend you go early in the morning or later in the afternoon/evening to avoid the biggest crowds and experience the joys of Yvoire in some peace.


At this time of year the weather is much colder but winter in Yvoire is special in its own way. In the winter Yvoire is far less crowded so you will have the charming stone streets to stroll through slowly to yourself. Unfortunately, the trees and flowers won’t be what they are in the summer and the Garden of the 5 senses closes during winter, but the frosty weather brings its own beauty and atmosphere to the quiet village on the edge of the lake.

Where is Yvoire and How to Get There

One of the many reasons that Yvoire is such a popular day trip destination is because of how accessible it is. Whether you wish to travel by car, bike, boat or bus, the transport options are many and frequent. 

Located in France on the Southern shores of Lake Leman, Yvoire is easily accessible from Switzerland by car or boat and it is only an hour’s drive from Morzine. The journey itself offers stunning views along the way and the village is well worth the drive. 

The old town of Yvoire is mostly pedestrianised and, if you arrive by car, you will be able to park in one of five car parks outside the walls. This way you get to explore the village by foot without worrying about traffic, another wonderful thing about the medieval town.

The Best Things to do in Yvoire

As we’ve previously mentioned, Yvoire is an ideal destination to spend the day in as it has so much to offer. Here is a list of things you can’t miss on during your visit:

1. Take a Stroll Through History

This may seem obvious but one of the greatest joys of Yvoire is strolling along its charming stone streets and soaking up the flowers that run along the terraces as well as the history that lines the alleyways. The town was designed around the main street, so it’s hard to get lost and you will most probably stumble across some main attractions without even trying! 

2. The Garden of the Five Senses

Once you’ve soaked up the flower filled streets you can treat your senses to the main horticultural event. With over 1300 varieties of plants, the beautifully landscaped garden in the centre of Yvoire is awash with colour, smells, textures and tastes. Explore Yvoire’s botanical paradise and wander through the perfectly kept pathways and arbours to your heart’s content. 

3. Sit by the Lake

After being on your feet for so long, what could be more pleasant than sitting by the water’s edge and listening to the gentle lapping of the lake. Although the crowds might make moving around a little slower, the port at Yvoire allows for some fantastic people watching as well as magnificent views of the lake and chateaus.

4. Pick up Souvenirs in Local Shops

Like all good holiday destinations this lakeside haven offers plenty of delightful shops to peruse. Take some time to browse souvenirs and clothes as well the artisanal foods available to try and take home. You won’t be disappointed in the selection of cheeses, wines and cured meat Yvoire has to offer.

5. Indulge in Something Sweet

Everyone knows that the best thing to boost energy on holiday is by indulging in something lovely and sweet. With a vast array of ice cream shops and creperies to choose from, we suggest you pick up your sweet treat and find a nice spot to watch the world go by.

6. Eat in one of the Highly Rated Restaurants

Yvoir’s foremost trade was originally fishing and there are many restaurants in and around the town that offer the very best fish found in Lake Geneva. At The Farmhouse, our personal favourite is Les Pêcheurs in Sciez.

Only 10 minutes from Yvoire, this wonderful restaurant serves local fish and has its own port and terrace with stunning views of the lake.

7. Take A Dip in Lake Leman

For another excellent activity to include in your day trip, we recommend taking a visit to the beach of Excenevex. Right next to Yvoire, this sandy beach on the shore of Lake Leman is the perfect spot to cool off after a busy day of exploring the town. 

8. Take a Boat to Switzerland.

If you have an urge to explore even further then you can board a boat bound for the other side of the lake. From Yvoire you can sail to towns including Nyon, Lausanne, Vevey and Montreux, which will also give you a lovely view of Yvoire from the water. 

Just bear in mind the seasons when putting together your itinerary, as certain shops, tours and attractions will only run in the sunnier months.

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Where To Stay When Visiting Yvoire

Now that you have inevitably added a trip to Yvoire to your travel plans you will need somewhere equally as charming to stay. Here at The Farmhouse in Morzine, we are only 50 minute’s drive from the medieval village on the lake and the roadtrip only adds to the fun. 

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Morzine is excellently connected to many other must visit lakeside towns and our beautiful village offers its own range of mountain activities. 

We would love to have you at The Farmhouse, so please don’t hesitate to contact us and allow us to make sure you have an unforgettable experience in Morzine and the surrounding areas.

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