Slow Travel in Yvoire, France

Polly | June 7th, 2023

We decided to visit Yvoire in late May, just before the summer rush begins and it gets too crowded.

With its proximity to Geneva, Yvoire serves as a tranquil escape from the bustling city, allowing travelers to immerse themselves in the charm of a small French town while still being within reach of the magnificent Swiss and French Alps.

Finding parking was a breeze outside the town since it’s still early in the season. There are a few spacious parking lots available, and we easily found a spot.

As we strolled through the streets, we noticed that the flowers were just starting to bloom, adding vibrant colors to the entire town. Whether it was the roses naturally growing on the stone walls or the locals adorning their balconies and terraces with beautiful flowers, the scenery was simply breathtaking.

Yvoire is a car-free zone, allowing pedestrians to leisurely explore the narrow streets and soak in the charming atmosphere.

Arriving around 10 a.m., we found the shops preparing for the day ahead. The gentle morning sunlight cast a pleasant glow, creating a delightful ambiance.

We couldn’t help but admire the aesthetic appeal of this little town. Every corner revealed meticulous attention to detail, from the various shop signs to the facades. Yvoire struck a perfect balance between its rich history and modern touches.

Among the shops, one called “Le Jardin Sous La Lune” caught our eye. The owner, wearing a lovely white boho dress that Polly adored, was busy arranging beautiful handmade hanging plant vases at the entrance.

Intrigued, we entered the shop to explore further. The owner shared that all the items in the store, including clothing, jewelry, headpieces, pottery, and wooden pieces, were locally made and crafted. We couldn’t resist and ended up buying a small gift for our friends’ daughter.

Just a few steps away, we discovered another shop adorned with climbing plants covering an entire wall. Inside, we found a delightful selection of colorful wooden toys perfect for babies and toddlers, including our own two-year-old son. The owner even offered personalized engravings on cute little gifts like egg cups.

Yvoire provides numerous peaceful spots and benches throughout the town, such as the square in front of the library and the area next to the church. We took a few moments to relax in the shade under a tree, refilling our water bottles from the small fountain, which offered refreshing drinkable water.

As lunchtime approached, we remembered that in France, restaurants typically serve lunch between 12:00 and 14:00, so we made sure not to miss it.

Although Yvoire offers a variety of restaurants catering to different tastes and budgets, on this occasion, we decided to venture just outside Yvoire, a short 10-minute drive away.

We had pre-booked a table at a restaurant called “Les Pêcheurs” in Sciez, situated in a stunning location with its private access to the lake.

Coincidentally, we were already familiar with the owners as we had previously worked together, photographing their delectable new menu.

The restaurant’s specialty lies in locally sourced fish, such as Perche du Leman. They also offer a range of seafood and vegetarian options, ensuring there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Sitting by the lake, we marveled at the picturesque view while savoring our delicious meals. The tranquil atmosphere and the gentle lapping of the water added to the overall dining experience.

It was a perfect opportunity to unwind and appreciate the natural beauty that surrounded us. We couldn’t help but feel grateful for the chance to enjoy such a serene setting.

With the arrival of warmer spring days, the owners were thrilled to open the terrace for the season. Picture yourself sitting just a few meters from the water, savoring your meal while the soothing sound of waves accompanies the breathtaking view of swans, mountains, and sailing boats passing by.

Recently, the owner installed fenders on their pier, allowing boats to stop over for lunch during their sail on Lake Leman and depart whenever they’re ready.

After our delightful lunch, we made our way back to Yvoire, realizing there was still so much to see and film, especially in the port area. Surprisingly, there are actually two ports right next to each other.

The first one, known as “Port des pêcheurs,” is mainly home to fishing boats. The other one, “Port de plaisance,” is larger and hosts all the beautiful yachts. You’ll also find a station with ferries that can take you across the lake to explore other stunning towns in Switzerland like Nyon or Lausanne, departing from Yvoire.

From the port, you can catch a glimpse of the iconic Yvoire castle, which dates back to the 14th century. Initially built with military purposes in mind, it served as a watchtower for navigation and controlled the road connecting Geneva to the high valley of the Rhône and Italy.

Although everyone is curious to see what lies within the castle walls, it remains a private residence, adding to the enigmatic allure of the place. However, don’t fret! Right next to the castle, you can visit the enchanting “Garden of Five Senses,” a botanical garden that offers a delightful sensory experience.

As the temperature started to rise, all we could think about was treating ourselves to a refreshing, cold ice cream in the old town.

Afterward, we took a short stroll just a few meters outside the fishermen’s port, “Port des pêcheurs,” and discovered a lovely shaded corner with easy access to the water. Polly dipped her feet in the cool water while we relaxed for a while before heading back home to pick up our little boy from childcare.

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