Last modified: 2004-07-17 by ivan sache
Keywords: haute-savoie | yvoire | cross (yellow) |
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by Nicolas Deprez
Yvoire is a small village located on the southern shore of the Lake Léman. The pointe d'Yvoire is the limit of the petit lac, the western part of the lake, mostly Swiss territory and often considered by the Genevans as "their" lake (lac de Genève), and the grand lac, which is larger and deeper. Four villages were built on the point of Yvoire, from west to east, Chens-sur-Leman, Nernier, Yvoire and Excenevex.
In the beginning of the XIVth century, count of Savoy Amédée V fortified the small fishers' village of Yvoire in order to control navigation between the two parts of the lake. Fortunately, Yvoire never became an important fortress and was spared the destructions of the wars involving France, Savoy and the Swiss states. Accordingly, Yvoire is today a wonderful medieval village, which has kept part of its city walls, two Gothical gates dated 1322 and a XIVth century fortress built on a small spur just above the lakeshore. The four-turrel donjon mirorring in the lake waters is the most famous view of Yvoire.
A brilliant description of Yvoire was given by the Swiss writer Charles-Ferdinand Ramuz (1878-1947) in his book Un coin de Savoie:
Il faut s'arrêter à Yvoire. C'est un village fortifié. Tout au bout de sa pointe et dominant le lac, il est étroitement serré encore dans son enceinte disparue ; j'entends qu'il n'a point osé en franchir la ligne, à present fictive et il est resté embusqué derrière ses deux tours qui défendent ses deux entrées. On s'enfonce sous leur voûte à ogive ; et devant soi, c'est la pente raide des petites routes caillouteuses, c'est un dégringolement ramassé de petites maisons à toits aux grosses tuiles jaunes, c'est enfin, dans le bas, le château commandant le port : un gros cube de pierre, avec une terrasse, et, sur ses murs guerriers, s'allonge et flotte au vent la pacifique vigne vierge.
You must stop at Yvoire. It is a fortified village. At the end of its point and dominating the lake, it is still narrowly enclosed in its lost city walls ; I mean it does not dare to cross the [fortification] line, today fictitious, but prefers to stay in ambush behind the two towers which protect its two gates. You must enter below their ogival archway ; then you reach the steep slope of small stony roads, a huddled fall of small houses with yellow-tiled roofs, and finally the fort commanding the port : a big stone cube, with a terrace, and with peaceful wild vine hanging on its warlike walls and floating in the wind.
The village of Yvoire has not changed a lot since it was described by Ramuz, but is now extremely crowdy in summertime, being the hot spot of tourism on the southern shore of the lake Leman. In order to bring some peacefulness in the village, Anne-Monique and Yves Bouvier, whose family has owned the baronny and the castle of Yvoire since the XVIIth century, transformed in the 1980s the former vegetable garden of the castle into the Jardin des Cinq Sens (Garden of the Five Senses), designed on the model of the medieval enclosed gardens.
Ivan Sache, 10 January 2004
The flag of Yvoire is blue with a yellow cross. The flag is based on the municipal arms of Yvoire, which have additionally in point two argent swans on a wave of the same.
Nicolas Deprez, 10 January 2004