The 14th century medieval hamlet of Yvoire– recognised as one of the “Plus Beaux Villages de France“– nestles on the shore of Lac Léman about a 30-minute drive from Geneva in the department of Haute-Savoie. With the lake on one side and the mountains on the other, it’s almost impossibly picturesque. This flower-bedecked village offers lots of charm but can be crowded with daytime visitors. That’s why I like to stay at the three-star hotel and restaurant, Le Pré de la Cure, a family-operated establishment on the upper edge of the village, steps from the ramparts.
During the day voices of French children at recess can be heard from the school yard next door to the hotel, otherwise there is a sense of calm. Ask for a room with a balcony that has a lake view. Seated on the large balcony you can see the hotel-restaurant and outdoor dining terrace below. Farther afield is the distinctive onion-shaped dome of Saint Pancras church, rising into the sky. Slightly beyond the church and village roofs, the large multi-colored blue lake stretches out to the horizon.
Yvoire is delightful to meander through on the several pedestrian only streets that loop up, down and around the village. Flowers are bountiful and thrive in this climate. There are unusual blossoms to admire, smell and photograph. There are many quaint and authentic buildings that house boutiques, cafés, galleries and private homes. Dominating the landscape is the privately owned château, fortified with turrets and towers. You can easily stroll along the shore for a look at the small fishing boats docked at the Port des Pecheurs, or you can stop at the larger Port de Plaisance to watch pleasure boats come and go. Also available are ferry crossings to various locations around the lake and boat tours on the lake. For a longer promenade, venture west, through a shady forest, to the small village of Nernier.
The local fish (perch and Lake Geneva fera) are offered at many of the cafés and restaurants. At Le Pré de la Cure, dine on the terrace to watch the sunset and enjoy the evening breezes. The restaurant is a Michelin recommended Bib Gourmand, meaning very good food and value. The plates are artistically presented and the ingredients are fresh and creatively combined. The hotel lobby is spacious and comfortable for relaxing. There is a covered heated pool area that includes a sauna and jacuzzi.
Numerous activities await, ready to satisfy all tastes. Crowned by the glimmering Savoyard-style steeple of St Pancras, Yvoire is a jewel to behold.
Jo Anne Marquardt is the author of My Trip Around the Hexagon: Meandering in France and Falling in Love with France, both available at Amazon.com. Her first published book, Falling in Love with France, offers responses to the various questions friends and family have asked her over the years about why she visits France so often. The second book includes illustrations and descriptive notes from her travel journals.
Visit Jo Anne’s website to check out her art: www.joannemarquardt.com.