Flashback Friday #20

Late September in 2009 I was fortunate to accompany my OH to a conference in Geneva. A place I once lived and worked in as an Au Pair way back in 1972. This post was written about a particularly lovely trip whilst exploring the area on my own.


Lost

A tale about getting lost might involve taking the wrong train, having a lousy navigator beside you, or leaving the compass at home. It could also mean losing one’s mind in the moment, being absorbed in a stunning painting or architectural style, momentarily forgetting who you are and where you are.

There have been many moments in my life when that is true.

Getting physically lost can be exciting, frightening or frustrating, but generally if you keep on going you always arrive somewhere.

Getting lost spiritually however can be a journey of discovery.

chateau and marina at Yvoire - France“It was hot. The last week in September, but feeling more like mid-summer with the sun kissing my skin and a soft breeze floating offshore. The lake was like a mirror reflecting the clouds and the boats bobbing in the little marina. The majority of the crowd disembarked from the ferry and made their way to one of the two nearby restaurants on the quayside. I watched them melt away before making my decision to explore first and eat later.

In immense anticipation I made my way through the narrow streets of the beautiful medieval village to “Le Labyrinthe Jardin des Cinq Sens,” (the Garden of Five Senses) and my “raison d’être” for visiting Yvoire.

astersIn an oasis of tranquillity you can smell, touch, contemplate, listen and taste.

The garden is divided into rooms where you can connect with flavours, fragrances and textures.

Gently touch the furry quince or spiky heads of the teasels; smell the chocolate cosmos and rub the apple-scented pelargonium leaves between your thumb and fingers; study the glacial-blue of a clematis, the considered planting of deep pink asters amongst paler pink Japanese anemones; nibble spearmint, chocolate mint or a sprig of rosemary and sit and listen to the birds splashing cheerfully in the bird bath in the centre of the maze of hornbeams.

sparrows
Sparrows bathing

As I relaxed on a bench, undisturbed, the sun burning two copper discs onto my retina, I drifted into another world:

lost in the moment

My senses reaching out to the sensations around me, aware only of what I could hear and smell and feel – the babbling water and the incessant birdsong mingling in the background, the perfume of the flowers and the light soft breeze on my face.”

If you want to read more about this lovely garden then I have a longer post on my flower blog.

And this post is all about the village itself.


This post is a contribution to Fandango’s Flashback Friday. Have you got a post you wrote in the past on this particular day? The world might be glad to see it – either for the first time – or again if they’re long-time loyal readers.

Impressions

Yvoire – a floral medieval village in France on Lac Léman (lake Geneva)

I have no idea how I came to hear about Yvoire, maybe a search for gardens in the area when I was planning my trip to Geneva back in 2009. I always want to check out the gardens in a place I visit so do a search and then make notes of the ones I can fit in, including times and days open etc. When I discovered ‘Le Jardin des Cinq Sens’ (The Garden of Five Senses) was just a ferry ride from Geneva and the fact it is in a place called the ‘floral’ town then I had to make it happen.

The Gate of Rovorée (or Gate of Thonon) built into the ramparts of Yvoire.

I am not going to talk about the garden here, that deserves a post of its own, though if you click on the link you will get a sense of how it affected me. I will write a fuller post on the garden blog.

Yvoire is not all about this garden: the medieval centre is romantic and famous for its flowers, cobbled streets, town walls and a wonderful historic chateau (private) going back to 1306 and a time when Lake Geneva castles played an important role in protecting the strategic trade routes through the Alps and along the lake. Probably best to time your visit outside of peak holiday time as it can become very crowded.

Yvoire Castle as viewed from Le Jardin des Cinq Sens

As I leave the port along with many other disembarking passengers I debate whether to eat first or explore. When I notice that everyone was else was headed for the restaurants the decision was made. Explore.

Once I get behind the camera I am lost in the zone. My eyes flit from flower to flower. The heat brings out the scents, the bees are busy humming and the gentle trickle of water from the drinking fountains are all I hear. Most people are busy eating in the numerous eateries in the village so I am able to wander in peace. Murmurs of conversations blending into the background. I saunter along the lanes and alleys lost in the history and beauty of this place.

Yvoire Castle as viewed from the ferry port

Everywhere you look are flowers: hanging baskets, window boxes on every balcony, containers crammed into tiny nooks and crannies, flowers along the narrow lanes and steps leading to the marina, flowers on steps. Begonias, petunias, pelargoniums. A riot of colour. And then there are the colourful shutters: pale blues and greens, turquoise.

The streets and alleys within the medieval walls are lined with restaurants, bars, tea shops, ice-cream makers, creperies, boutiques and artisan workshops. The unusual onion dome of St Pancras was constructed in 1857, replacing the old campanile. It was eventually covered in stainless steel in 1989 and the top is covered with gold leaf coming from one of the last gold miller in France located in Excenevex, near Yvoire. The church itself dates from 1250.

The castle, although privately owned and not open to the public, dominates the village and is a must for photographers. The only question is where to take the photo(s) from. I try to find some unusual angles

Stepping outside the two gates I discovered more floral displays as well as sculptures, hotels and car parks and bus stops. By now it was time to visit that garden, before everyone else descended upon it.

Display outside the ramparts

I did finally have some lunch, a little late, but delicious all the same. And what better place than the Brasserie Les Cygnes (swans) in the ferry port where I tucked into Tarte à la tomate et au chèvre, salade mixte and a bier blond citron. Followed by a desert called ‘Baby Estelle’ consisting of pistachio ice-cream, fruit of forest sorbet and sauce and whipped cream. Well I had done a lot of walking. I enjoyed sitting on the upstairs terrace overlooking the port and the lake and reflecting on my day out whilst waiting for the boat back to Geneva.

The Old Port Yvoire

~wander.essence~ Prose

Lost

A tale about getting lost might involve taking the wrong train, having a lousy navigator beside you, or leaving the compass at home. It could also mean losing one’s mind in the moment, being absorbed in a stunning painting or architectural style, momentarily forgetting who you are and where you are. There have been many moments in my life when that is true. Getting physically lost can be exciting, frightening or frustrating, but generally if you keep on going you always arrive somewhere. Getting lost spiritually however can be a similar journey of discovery.

chateau and marina at Yvoire - FranceIt was hot. The last week in September, but feeling more like mid-summer with the sun kissing my skin and a soft breeze floating offshore. The lake was like a mirror reflecting the clouds and the boats bobbing in the little marina. The majority of the crowd disembarked from the ferry and made their way to one of the two nearby restaurants on the quayside. I watched them melt away before making my decision to explore first and eat later.

In immense anticipation I made my way through the narrow streets of the beautiful medieval village to “Le Labyrinthe Jardin des Cinq Sens,” (the Garden of Five Senses) and my “raison d’être” for visiting Yvoire.

astersIn an oasis of tranquillity you can smell, touch, contemplate, listen and taste. The garden is divided into rooms where you can connect with flavours, fragrances and textures. Gently touch the furry quince or spiky heads of the teasels; smell the chocolate cosmos and rub the apple-scented pelargonium leaves between your thumb and fingers; study the glacial-blue of a clematis, the considered planting of deep pink asters amongst paler pink Japanese anemones; nibble spearmint, chocolate mint or a sprig of rosemary and listen to the birds splashing cheerfully in the bird bath in the centre of the maze of hornbeams.

sparrowsAs I relaxed on a bench, undisturbed, the sun burning two copper discs onto my retina, I drifted into another world:

lost in the moment

My senses reaching out to the sensations around me, aware only of what I could hear and smell and feel – the babbling water and the incessant birdsong mingling in the background, the perfume of the flowers and the light soft breeze on my face.