Day Trip from Geneva to Yvoire, France

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Make Time to Go Medieval in a Small French Village

The castle in Yvoire, France, was built in the Middle Ages. Photo credit: © foxytoul — stock.adobe.com

The castle in Yvoire, France, was built in the Middle Ages. Photo credit: © foxytoul — stock.adobe.com

From fast-moving and modern Geneva, with its trains and efficiencies, escape for a day to nearby Yvoire, France, a medieval town replete with a castle. Situated on Lake Geneva (also known as Lac Léman), this little town transports visitors to the Middle Ages as they pass through its walls, visit the small, stone church of Saint Pancras, head down to the waterfront, and marvel at that glorious castle.

A stronghold in a number of wars from the 1300s, the castle had fallen into disrepair by 1900. Now restored—and privately owned—it is not open to the public; even so, going to Yvoire to see it is worth a trip, especially for tourists from places where the architecture does not typically include castles. They really do exist! Even the most cynical of travelers might imagine knights in shining armor rattling through the old streets of this place, especially if the day is a bit misty or dusk is near.

Saint Pancras Church in Yvoire, France, is named for the patron saint of teenagers, who was martyred at the age of 14 on the Via Aurelia in Rome in the year 304 C.E. Photo credit: ©Aurélien Antoine — stock.adobe.com

Saint Pancras Church in Yvoire, France, is named for the patron saint of teenagers, who was martyred at the age of 14 on the Via Aurelia in Rome in the year 304 C.E. Photo credit: ©Aurélien Antoine — stock.adobe.com

Visitors can walk by charming shops and apartments in buildings that seem to have been constructed before time began. At the small church of Saint Pancras, listen for the sound of monks chanting. Stop for a cappuccino or a drink at a restaurant in the village and imagine how food was served in the Middle Ages. Think about how physically small people were then, and how they lived their lives almost entirely locally. Would you have been able to eat their food and live their lives? Would you be able to stay in this place forever?

Listen carefully and you may hear the chant of monks inside the Church of Saint Pancras in Yvoire, France. Photo credit: © lemélangedesgenres — stock.adobe.com

Listen carefully and you may hear the chant of monks inside the Church of Saint Pancras in Yvoire, France. Photo credit: © lemélangedesgenres — stock.adobe.com

You might want to. Yvoire is about a 45-minute drive from Geneva, or about 25 miles (or 40 km), or a bit more or less, depending on the route you take. With a little more ingenuity, travelers can also take a train and a boat to get to Yvoire from Geneva. A hotel and bed-and-breakfast options are available in Yvoire.

—Lori Tripoli

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