Lausanne , (pron: law-ZANNE) the capital of the Swiss canton of Vaud, is a medium sized city (around two thirds the size of Geneva) which sits at the northern most point of Lake Geneva (Lac Léman). The city is the host to the International Olympic Committee and two major universities. It is also the transportation hub of Vaud, and a gateway to the alpine Canton of the Valais, home to some of the best known ski slopes in the world.
As you might expect the large student population makes for a lively nightlife and arts community, revolving around the Flon district. You'll also find a number of quality restaurants and two dozen museums of note, including the Olympic Museum and the offbeat Collection de l'Art Brut. Architecture buffs should note that at the top of the old town you'll find the best preserved Gothic cathedral in Switzerland.
Lausanne is a French speaking city, but Swiss-German and Italian are also spoken. A large enough part of the population has English as a second language that you probably will have little trouble, but it is not as commonly spoken as in nearby Geneva.
Lausanne's Cathedral as seen from the Grand Pont
There has been a settlement on the hill of Lausanne since at least the stone age, but most histories of the city trace its origin to the roman camp Lausanna which occupied a position just down the hill toward the lake in what is now the village of Vidy.
Relocated to more defensible hilltop in the dark ages, Lausanne's increasing wealth and importance were largely derived from its placement on the primary north south routes between Italy and the north sea. It was the first major town north of the St. Bernard pass, at least until the establishment of the bishopric of Valais.
In 1538 the Bernese took the city from the Dukes of Savoy as part of their drive to secure their southwestern frontier. The Bernese held the territory until Lausanne gained its independence from Bern after the invasion of a French army under Napoléon Bonaparte in 1798. The city was later, in 1803, admitted to Switzerland as the capital of Vaud.
Lavaux, the mini region of the northwestern shore of Lake Geneva from Lausanne to Montreux (sometimes called the Swiss Riviera) has been a second home to writers, artists and musicians for about 150 years starting with the Shelleys and Lord Byron, who partied and wrote in Lausanne (Frankenstein is rumoured to have been composed here). Other famous residents include Ernest Hemingway, who wintered here with his young family around the time related in A Movable Feast and Charlie Chaplin who lived in Vevey from the mid 1930s on.
- The Lausanne Tourism Office, at the main station, and in Ouchy at Place de la Navigation 9 just across from the (now closed) M2 station. + 41 21 613 73 73. . 9AM-7PM every day. The staff at the tourism board offices or over the phone can almost always place you in a hotel in your price range even at the very last minute. In addition they have a fantastic free map of the city and huge assortment of useful printed materials in English as well as French, German, and Italian.
Lausanne is served by one of the most efficient passenger rail services in the world, the Swiss Federal Rail system. Trains run roughly each half-hour between 4:45am and 1:30am every day to and from Geneva, Zurich, Bern, Neuchatel, St. Gallen, Brig and points in between. There are four trains daily from Paris Gare de Lyon via the SNCF's TGV "High Speed Train"", and 3 per day from Milan on the Swiss-Italian Cisalpino (CHEEZ-al-PEEN-o). The Italian rail service also provides twice-per-day trains to and from Milan and night trains to and from Rome and Venice.
The closest airport, Geneva airport is served by almost all European carriers, and by two daily trans-Atlantic flights, one from New York, JFK on Swiss and one from Newark on Continental, otherwise when flying from the U.S. you will have to change planes at your airline's hub airport. Zurich airport provides an alternative, with more frequent trans-Atlantic service mainly via Swiss.
International buses arrive daily from Spain, France, as well as major cities in Central Europe. Many buses pass through Geneva or Basel before stopping in Lausanne.
Boats ply both the Swiss and French shores of Lake Geneva with several daily ferries to Evian (passport required to enter France), Montreux, Geneva and many smaller lakeshore towns. Lunch and dinner cruises are also popular with tourists. Most of the ferries are meant as scenic trips and not the fastest way to get around. If travelling from Geneva to Lausanne, a boat trip is worth the time on a clear day.
The neighborhoods of Lausanne which are of primary concern to a visitor are the Cité, the Ville Marché, and the port of Ouchy. In between you'll find the Flon which is mainly a nightclub district these days, and the otherwise sleep Sous Gare neighborhood just under the train station which boasts one of the best cafés in town. If you feel up for a hike it's also probably worth while to spend a few hours climbing around in the woods of Sauvebelin which is above and north of the Hermitage.
- Cité This hill is the part of Lausanne's old town which goes back the furthest, and holds a lot of interest for travelers, being the site of the Cathedral, the Castle, MUDAC, several other museums, a children's theatre and a really good toy store.
- Ville Marché The medieval city of Lausanne grew up with outdoor markets arrainged around several of the entrances to the old city, together with the old city these markets make up the balance of the Old Town, including Place Palud, Place St. François, and Place Riponne.
- Flon The original rail line into Lausanne once came up the Flon river into this valley, but there was no way to go through town, so it was surplanted in the 19th century with a line one ridge further south which could serve destinations in the Valais and Italy. Today the former warehouses of the Flon Valley are mostly occupied with trendy restaurants and discos.
- Ouchy Once a fishing Village, Ouchy was incorportated into the City of Lausanne in the mid-19th century to serve as a port on Lac Léman. The incredible views of the lake and the Alps, and the cooler air in summer have make Ouchy a popular place especially in the summer months. There's a major cluster of hotels and restaurants around the port.
- Sous Gare In the 19th century Lausanne expanded to fill all of the land between the current location of the train station (or Gare CFF) and the port of Ouchy. This is mostly a district of apartment buildings and houses, but it's worth a walk through, if only for the Café de Grancy and the park on the Crêt de Montriond.
Walking is a great way to get around Lausanne. There are a number of sites within a short walk of the main railway station with the largely carfree streets beginning right across the street with rue du Petit-Chêne, which leads up to Place St. François in the old town. Like many streets in Lausanne it is a bit steep though, so if that's a problem consider taking the metro M2 line.
There are normally two Metro lines provided by Transports publics de la région lausannoise which have their hub at the Flon Metro station. The M2 connecting Flon to the main train station, and the lakefront at Ouchy is currently out of service. When service resumes sometime in 2008 the new M2 will be a fully automated subway system connecting Ouchy to the northern suburb of Epalinges via the central station, Flon, and multiple stops in the old town. The M1 serves points west, including the University of Lausanne (UNIL) and the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL). A third Metro line is provided by the private LEB company, with trains connecting with the other two lines at Flon which run out to the far northern suburbs of Echallens and Bercher.
Metro (and bus) tickets are sold from vending machines at all stops, and at the main train station and the Flon. Normal tickets are sold by distance, as determined by a zone system. You can determine the number of zones your ticket needs to cover by inspecting the diagram on the ticket machines, or on the free map available at all ticket-sales points. Tickets are available for single rides, return, and in day and week passes. The CFF Abonnement General rail passes are good for unlimited travel throughout the TL and LEB system.
If you have a CFF pass for non-swiss travelers you should ask at the main station if your pass covers the local transit system, since some passes do and others don't.
Clean and fast buses, also provided by TL, are very frequent and form a dense enough network that you will rarely find yourself more than a few hundred feet from one bus stop or the other.
- Collection de l'Art Brut, rue des Bergières 11, Bus 2 (Toward Désert, stop at Jomini), Bus 3 (toward Bellevaux, stop Beaulieu), . Tu-Su 11AM-6PM. This must-see collection of works by untrained artists will at turns delight, amaze, baffle, and irritate. Many of the artists whose works are shown here found life difficult or impossible outside (or inside) of institutions, finding solace and purpose in sometimes compulsive acts of creation.
The Palais de Rumine, home to a number of worthy museums
- Palais de Rumine, Place de la Riponne 6. Tu Wed 11AM-6PM, Thu 11AM-8PM, Fri-Sun 11AM-5PM. Based on an Italian renaissance design, this lovely building is not as old as it looks. There are five different museums inside with exhibitions covering subjects ranging from fine arts to natural history.
- Musée cantonal d'archéologie et d'histoire, +41 21 316 34 30, .
- Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts, +41 21 316 34 45, .
- Olympic Museum, Quai d'Ouchy 1, +41 21 621 65 11, Fax: +41 21 621 65 12, . From 1 May to 30 Sep: Every day 9AM-6PM, 1 October to 30 April: Tu-Su 9AM-6PM. Closed on Mondays. The museum advertises itself as presenting "wealth of memories which will keep your passion for Olympism burning". The sculpture garden, overlooking Lac Léman, is open to the public. 14 Chf for the whole museum, 7 Chf for just the temporary exhibitions. Children get in half price. Children under 10 admitted free.
- Musée Historique de Lausanne, Place de la Cathedral 4, +41 21 315 41 01. Tu-Th 11AM-6PM, F-Su 11AM-5PM. A collection of maps, images and documents about the history of Lausanne, and the Lake Geneva Region from the earliest times through the long Bernese occupation to liberation and the present day. A beautifully hand-crafted diarama of 16th-century Lausanne is worth a visit all by itself. 4 Chf, students 2.50.
- Mudac, place de la Cathédral 6, +41 21 315 25 30, . The museum of design and contemporary applied arts.
- Musée de l'Elysée, ave de l'Elysée 18, +41 21 316 99 11, . A photography museum.
- Musée Romain lausanne-Vidy, chemin du Bois-de-Vaux 24, +41 21 315 41 85, . This Roman settlement site at Vidy has the remains of walls and a forum from the time of Caesar.
- Espace Arlaud, place de la Riponne 2bis, +41 21 316 38 50, .
- la Tour d'Ale, one of the few surviving parts of the medieval ramparts.
- Fondation de l'Hermitage, Rte du Signal 2, +41 21 312 50 13, . Tu-Su 10AM-6PM, Th 10AM-9PM, Bank holidays 10AM-6PM. Built in 1841 as a residence for the banker Charles-Juste Bugnion, the Hermatage occupies its own wooded space on the hill above old-town, with marvelous views of the Cathedral and the Alps. The family donated the house and land to the City of Lausanne in 1976, which now uses the building to host first class traveling international art exhibitions. Adults 15 Chf, Seniors 12 Chf, Students and unemployed 7 Chf, Under 18 Free.
- Explore The Old Town, Take Metro 2 to the Flon, and either take the elevator up, or just cross the street. Alternatively, if you don't mind climbing, the car-free section of old town really starts right across from the train station, with a steep walk up the hill. Shops keep strict hours of 10am-7pm Monday to Friday, and 10am-5pm on Saturdays. On Saturdays year-round almost all of the huge car-free area becomes a vast farmers market. Thanks to the hills making it hard to pave over, Lausanne's old town is larger than most found in Swiss cities, with the notable exception of Zurich. You can spend days wandering the old cobbled streets and still not know all of its nooks and crannies. After the shops close there are dozens of quaint, cozy, hip, or just warm restaurants, cafes and nightclubs, especially considering that at Place Central the old town joins with the Flon nightclub/gallery district. Wander as long as you like, there's no charge of course.
- Enjoy the lakefront of Ouchy, Take Metro 2 to Ouchy, et voila, as you leave the metro station you'll find the lake (and on a clear day the alps) stretched out in front of you. The lakefront also offers restaurants, bars, and the Chateau d'Ouchy castle/hotel.
- Observe the construction of a subway system. The city and canton are building a new subway line, the first urban subway system in the country. Métro M2 will include the current M2 inclined railway (part of which is already underground), and will wind its way up into the hills above the city, coming out in the super posh suburb of Epallinges. Construction started in 2004 and is scheduled to continue into 2007 or 2008. There are observation platforms at the top of the elevator above the Flon Métro station, above place de la Riponne, and at several other locations. Guided tours are available for groups.
Concerts and Theater
- Métropole, rue des Terreaux 9, . A major concert hall for western Switzerland, the Métropole books danse, world music, pop, jazz, etc. If you are passing through town at the right time you might catch anything from the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra to the Cure here.
- Espace de Terreaux, rue des Terreaux 14, +41 21 21 320 00 46, . The local council of protestant churches has de-concecrated the chapel located across the street from the Metropole 2000 shopping center and now uses it to present weekly concerts with a mix of sacred and profane acts ranging from American gospel singers through Eastern European Klezmer bands to puppet theatre for children.
- Arsenic, rue de Genève 57, +41 21 625 11 36, [email protected], . Specializing in more offbeat acts the Arsenic books a full schedule of avant-guarde theatre, jazz and pop music, and installation/performance art throughout the fall, winter and spring.
Lausanne's Cathedral as seen from place de l'Ours
The usual Swiss trinkets are available in a couple of places around town, although they are not nearly as ubiquitous as in Geneva or Bern. The real draw here is a colorful farmers market on Saturdays and Wednesdays in the steep, winding streets of Old Town. There are plenty of boutiques and department stores as well. Note that pretty much everything is closed on Sunday, except in Ouchy, part of which is on Federal land.
Mixed in with the expected and the posh are a couple of things which might surprise you:
- Maniak, Rue J.-J. Mercier 6, +41 21 312 58 40. punk chic
- Pompes Funèbres, place de l'Europe. The name of this shoe-store, a spin-off from Maniak above, means "Funeral Services", of course pompe can mean either a ceremony or a sort of shoe, so there you go. They carry all of the trendy lines; Doc Martin, Camper, and others.
The usual tricks for budget travel dining work in Lausanne as well. There's a grocery store ("Aperto") inside the train station which is open every day until midnight, and there are plenty of great places to take your picnic, for instance you might try the Crêt de Montriond. To get there turn left after leaving the station and follow the street on the left as it passes below the rails. After the turn you should see a green hill around the size of a five story building directly in front of you.
If you have a valid student ID many budget and even some mid-range restaurants offer a student menu for a reduced price.
- Manora, 17 Place St-François. A buffet style cornucopia just at the top of the steep walk up rue du petit chaine from the main station. There is also a branch on the top floor of the Manor department store with a nice view from the terrace in summer. The variety is good, and the prices don't get any lower. 10-25Chf.
- P'tit Bar rue louis-curtat 6. Open every day until 7PM. Tiny, as the name would indicate this place can accommodate around 12 people at a time, and that's with strangers seated together at the tiny table, (it works out to be a good place to meet people.) They only serve lunch: salads in the Summer and excellent soup in the Winter.
- Dhanyaa, 13, rue du Simplon (Near the southern entrance of the train station), +41 21 617 24 60, , . M-F 10AM-7PM, Sa 10AM-5PM. Strictly vegetarian, and strictly take-away Indian foods. 20 Chf.
- Crêperie de la Chandeleur, 9 rue Mercerie (In the carfree section of the old town, between the Place de la Palud and the cathedral), +41 21 312 84 19, Tu-Sa 10AM-11PM. This cute little crêperie offers the best crêpes in Lausanne in a homesy Breton atmosphere. If you are traveling with children this is a great place for lunch or dinner as you will be in good company with the owners and locals, and the kids can amuse themselves with the large collection of toys. 12-30Chf
- Crêperie d'Ouchy, 9 place du port (next to the hotel Angleterre). Without the authentic Breton atmosphere of the Chandeleur, but with a terrace across the road from the lake, this crêperie offers a wider selection than most of ingredients to put in either your savory or sugary crêpe. Be warned though, the savory crêpes are made with white flour just like the sweet ones. 12 - 30 Chf
- Café de Grancy, avenue de Rond Pont 1 (one block south of the main train station), +41 21 616 86 66, . The Grancy offers a full dinner menu of substantial quality, which always includes a few good vegetarian options. The reason many travelers will want to visit however is to linger - outside of dinner hours - over a coffee and a book or newspaper, or to really catch the spirit of the place your still-unfinished master's thesis. It's as though the front door is some kind of science-fiction transporter which links it directly to Berkeley. 3.00 Chf for coffee, 3.50-4.20 Chf for a glass of wine or a beer. 16 Chf for the (amazing) risotto of the day.
- Café de l'Eveche, rue louis-curtat 4 (very near the cathedral), +41 21 323 93 23. This student hang-out is the place to go in Lausanne for fondue. There are several good vegi choices - but also quite a bit of choice for carnivores, including (for better or worse) horse steak. 10-40 Chf.
- Le Saint Géry, galeries Benjamin Constant 1, (021 323 36 36, www.stgery.ch). New Belgian restaurant in Lausanne. Interesting menu, with a very decent selection of fish and seafood, most of it "Belgianized" and very very tasty. Sexy decor and friendly staff make it a good choice for a romantic dinner. Look at 40-60 Sfr for a good night out.
- Poco Loco, Place Chauderon 5, also accessible from the Flon district off of rue de Genève. +41 22 329 11 11, . So you probably aren't going to travel to Switzerland for the Mexican food, but if you get a hankering while you're there you could hardly do better than this noisy, popular, and fairly authentic joint which is attached to a Spanish-language cinema and a hip bar. The desert menu offers a selection of Mexican cigars, tequillas, and of course sweets. Not super vegi-friendly, but they do have vegetarian fajitas. 30 - 40 Chf.
- Quai des Brunes, Place Benjamin Constant (at the eastern edge of the old town), +41 21 351 24 60, [email protected], . M 8AM-Midnight, Tu-Th 8AM-1AM, Sa 8AM-2AM, Su 8:30AM-2AM. Nice, laid-back place with comfy brown leather lounge chairs, and an eclectic fusion menu. The food is well prepared and presented, and the prices are very nice for the quality. 30 Chf - 60 Chf (Saturday brunches for 19 - 20 Chf).
- Java, rue Marterey 36 (between rue Enning and Place des Ours), +41 21 321 38 37, . There's something very welcoming about this little bar/restaurant that makes it a fantastic place to linger for a few hours before staying on for a dinner of one of Java's many gorgeously presented Mediterranean inspired dishes, or optionally one of the large selection of savory crêpes. Vegetarians will feel right at home. ~ 20 Chf for dinner.
- Pur, Flon Valley (take Metro M2 to Flon, and walk through the flon valley past Café Louis). The upscale Italian cuisine in this large trendy all glass restaurant simply glows. For a real treat try the . After dinner hours the bar crowd here leans very slightly gay, but there are usually lots of young hetro couples (and singles too) mixed in. In the summer the terrace, nicely insulated from motor traffic is a big draw for singles of all persuasions. Expect to pay around 50 CHF per person for dinner.
- MYO, 1 allée Ernest-Ansermet (in the park of Montbennon), +41 21 323 22 88. A high-quality sushi/fusion restaurant with a superb view of the lake and the alps. Vegetarians fear not! The creativity of the chef extends to non-seafood items as well. ~ 60 Chf per person
- Louis, Place de la Europe 9 (across from the LEB metro station), . This restaurant/wine bar offers a range of European and American wines and a full dinner menu with a good deal of seasonal variation. Upstairs there's an even fancier version with a menu dégustation. Expect to spend around 50 Chf per person downstairs and about twice that upstairs.
- l'Accademia, 11 Place du Port (in the hotel Angleterre), +41 21 613 34 34. Very high-end Italian cooking in a warmly decorated room. The service is impressive, as is the wine list. Of course you pay for what you get. 60 Chf + per person.
- la Table du Palais, rue du Grand-Chêne 7-9 (in the Lausanne Palais Hotel), +41 21 331 32 15. Known for inventive and subtle cooking and super attentive service, the Table has won a Michelin star, one of two in central Lausanne. 100 Chf + per person
- la Grappe d'Or, rue Cheneau-de-Bourg 3 (under the Pont Bessière), +41 21 323 07 60. Angelika and Peter Baermann are the royal family of within the city of Lausanne, having received numerous awards over the years including a star from Michelin. The food is as creative as the restaurant is formal, with meat and seafood menus. Don't be surprised if you wind up dropping 200 Chf per person with wine.
- Restaurant de l'Hôtel de Ville de Crissier, rue d'Yverdon 1, 1023 Crissier (Bus 18 Crissier-centre gets you fairly close, or take a cab), +41 21 634 05 05, . The top of the top in Suisse Romande or possibly in Switzerland. Reviewers use words like "incomparable", "stellar", and "spectacular" when writing about the culinary stylings of rock-star chef Pierre Rochat. They have 3 (three) Michelin stars which is as high as the scale goes (and quite rare). Consider reserving several months in advance, especially if your diet is limited in some way. The Menu will run you 265-295 Chf, without wine.
The sheer number of nightlife spots makes it hard to choose which ones to list. As a general rule they tend to be clustered into nightlife districts, like the Flon, Place du Tunnel, Place de la Gare, rue Marterie, etc. This list tries to prevent one or two individual establisments from each of those clusters, plus a few which are a bit more off the beaten path.
The city's own official website has surprisingly good music listings, so if you would like to see what's going on during your visit give it a try.
- Le Bourg, Rue de Bourg 51, +41 21 625 07 07.  A great place to see up-and-coming jazz and performance oriented acts from all over the continent. The place is a real theater with a tiny bar in front, and the booking is simply amazing for a room which can hold maybe 30 people tops, with acts ranging from French accordeon jazz or gypsy jazz to Coco-Rosie-like "new folk" to famed Chicago and NYC djs. You would not be alone in asking how they could possibly pull that off (a little bird mentions that they are underwritten by the city). 6 Chf drafts.
- Café Luna, Place de l'Europe 7 (just at the top of the M2 Metro line), . Open Tuesday through Saturday nights until 2AM. A jet-set place, Luna specializes in atmosphere. The place is at its best during the week when DJs spin the best in period and contemporary Easy-Listening hip. Weekend evenings tend toward standing-room-only, but what do you expect? There is a limited food menu, which includes a dozen or so Bruschetta possibilities. 3.50-7.00Chf for a beer or a glass of wine.
- Bar Tabac, rue Beau-Séjour 7, +41 21 312 33 16. This super-friendly café across the street from one of the city's administration buildings has a huge selection of Belgian beers and French wines. The decor is understated hip, the climate is calm, and the clientele is a very pleasant mix.
- Brasserie Artisanale (aka Café du Château), Place du Tunnel 1, +41 21 312 60 11. Open from 5PM every day, this Brasserie offers a number of beers made on the spot including a speciality, 100% natural ginger beer. They also have a kitchen offering a range of tasty pizzas at reasonable prices. Note the signs that say "service au bar", which means you have to order at the bar or you'll wait some time to be noticed and served. A pint of ginger (or other) beer will set you back 5 Chf, a pizza 15 Chf.
- Freeport Lounge, Place de la Gare, (in the train station building). Open every day until 5AM. Just about the most convenient watering hole in town for the traveler, the Freeport can afford to get a couple of other things wrong. The decor and atmosphere are just OK, as is the service.. but of course the back door opens directly onto the platform for the trains to Zurich. At night the place can get downright lively, serviing as a plaform for new djs to find their beat, and with a student crowd. 3.00 - 7.00 Chf
- Le Fellini, Place St. François 12, +41 21 34 34 400. A non-pretentious café/bar which keeps long opening hours, just around the corner from St. Francis' church. There's fine view of the French alps from the front window. They also have a dinner menu, with a dining room upstairs fro the cafe.
- Bleu Lézard, rue Enning 10, . The Blue Lézard is a popular student hangout with a restaurant-café-bar upstairs and a dancefloor in the basement. There's usually live music on Wednesdays and DJs on the weekends. 4 Chf for a beer.
- Atelier Volant, 12, Côte de Montbenon, . Wednesday through Sunday until 4AM. Offering three floors of entertainment including live Brazilian and Cuban bands, and salsa dance parties. The downstairs bar leans a bit more to Punk and Rock music.
- MAD, Rte de Genève 23, . Large dance club with international DJ appearances. Doesn't get started until after midnight. Check local listings for details.
- Café/Caveau de l'Hôtel de Ville, place de la Palud 10 (in the old town), +41 21 312 10 12. This is a good place to meet friends or just prop yourself up with a book and 2 or 3 decilitres of good local wine. The atmostphere is friendly as is the service. The food is good too so at dinnertime and lunch on saturdays the place is packed up, but it's easy to find spot in between. There's a second bar in the basement which is only open after 10PM, and which features live music and theater, especially check out the jazz jam session on thrusday nights. 3.50 Chf for 1 deci of wine, 4 Chf for a beer.
- Le Lounge, Place du Port 2 (Metro 1 line down to the lake. The Lounge is on the east side of the Chateau, facing the Vaudois Alps). The Lounge of the Chateau d'Ouchy hotel has comfy red sofas, and a few tables inside but the real draw is the terrace which in facing east has a magnificent view of the Vaudois Alps. On a clear day try to pick out the Rocher de Naye above Montreux and the twin towers, the Tour d'Ai and the Tour de Mayen above Leysin. The blinking light you see at night in the same direction is the restaurant on La Berneuse.
- WhiteHorse Pub, av. d'Ouchy 66 (Just up the road from the Chateau). So many English pubs try to actually be English. This one is very Swiss-Romande and is possibly better for it, at least as a pub experience for the traveller who presumably would have gone to England to visit an English pub.
- MGM, Rue du Lac 14 (50 meters east of Métro Ouchy), +41 21 616 38 81. A red storefront facing the lake and the alps, the MGM has two terraces: the usual sort on the sidewalk, and better yet a deck on the second floor which makes for a great place to relax and enjoy a drink while taking in the view of the Massif du Chablais in the lingering sunlight of a summer evening.
- XIIIème Siècle, rue Cité-Devant (In the old city, behind the Cathedral). Claiming to be a bar for students this "13th Century" basement bar really gets going after midnight, when the other bars start to close. The dancing (and massive pulling) goes on until 5AM. A big plus: the very clean bathrooms are 21st Century, having been remodeled just a few years ago. Drinks are a bit pricier here than elsewhere though: 7 Chf beer.
To perhaps a surprising degree for visitors from outside of Swiss Romande gay nightlife is very well integrated into nightlife at large. Most Lausanne nightspots are definintely gay-friendly, and many have a mixed straight-gay barstaff. There are a couple of places though which either advertise themselves as gay, or just have a majority gay crowd rather than just being gay-friendly. If that's what you are looking for there are a number of such bars along the avenue de Tivoli, and just one in the old town:
- La Canttine, Place Auberjonois(the triangle shaped square between place Palud and Place de la Riponne). Regardless of a recent change in ownership and name, La Canttine (they really do spell it with two t's) is still only majority gay bar in the old-town of Lausanne. This trendy bar/café/restaurant does serve its fair share of young straight couples, but mainly during the off-peak early evening hours. The decor is hipster-chic, and the service top notch.
Most of the hotels in Lausanne are in the mid-price range, though there are also a number of luxury hotels as you would expect in the city which hosts the International Olympic Committee. There are also a few cheapies.
- ADA-Logements, Av. de Tivoli 60, +41 21 625 71 34. A good value bed and breakfast with 12 rooms, with a pleasant and relaxed atmosphere. 60/100 Chf.
- Raisin, Pl. Palud 19, +41 21 312 27 56. This traditional inn still offers a handful of rooms just as it has for several hundred years. They've kept prices low by avoiding any suggestion of remodeling. 70/130 Chf
- Jeunotel, Ch. du Bois-de-Vaux, +41 21 626 02 22, . This hotel near the university and sporting complexes offers 55 Casual rooms aimed at younger travelers, with 6 rooms designed for the needs of Chaperons. Starting at 32 Chf. for a bed in a triple, 54/85 Chf Singles without/with Shower.
- Lausanne GuestHouse, Epinettes 4, +41 21 601 80 00, [email protected], . Near the CFF railway station, thus absolutely in the center of Lausanne. It's in a nice 19th century town house. Place in a four-bed room starting at Chf. 29, Chf. 88 for a Single (with shower).
- Chateau d'Ouchy, Place du Port 2 (Metro 1 line down to the lake. The hotel is across the street from the metro station.), +41 21 616 74 51, Fax: +41 21 617 51 37, . It's a castle! ...And it's in the mid-price range. The staff is super friendly and the location is great, with a magnificent view of the Vaudois alps. The boat to Evian is just steps away too. 140 - 150 Chf (Specials as low as 130 Chf).
- Hotel Regina, rue Grand St-Jean 18 (In the old town. Metro Flon, Bus to Place Bel Aire), +41 21 320 24 41, Fax: +41 21 320 25 29, . Desk open until 10PM. This cute little hotel is in a great location for exploring the old town and the Flon gallery and nightclub district. The staff is super nice, and they offer free wireless internet service to their guests! 84 Chf - 135 Chf.
- Hôtel City, rue Caroline 5, +41 21 320 21 41, . A nice well-kept hotel at the other end of pont Bessières from the Cathedral, and thus offering some magnificent views. 125-160/160-195
- Hôtel des Voyageurs, rue Grand St-Jean 19 (In the old town. Metro Flon, Bus to Place Bel Aire), +41 21 319 91 11, . Just across the street from the Regina, and offering rooms of a similar quality. 149-178/219-260 Chf singles/doubles
- Mövenpick, av Rhodanie 4 (On the waterfront at Ouchy, just down from the Metro station), +41 21 612 76 12, . The Swiss Ice-Cream and hospitality giant's Lausanne location is a very good value for the price, if you're going to spend that much anyway. There are three very good value (splurge quality, mid-range prices) restaurants downstairs to choose from. The main one offers fusion dishes and — a rarety for Europe — a good choice of California wines. 180-360/194-440 Chf singles/doubles
- Lausanne Palace, rue du Grand-Chêne 7-9 (next to park Montbenon), +41 21 331 31 31, . Reception operates 24 hours per day 365 days per year. This stylish 5 star just off of the old town offers superb views of the lake and mountains, and three different restaurants including the Table du Palais which has a Michelin star. Starting at 350/450 Chf. 2,600 Chf for the presidential Suite.
- Beau-Rivage Palace, pl Port 17-19 (across from the Chateau d'Ouchy), +41 31 613 33 33, . The absolute pinnicle of Lausanne guest accommodations, the Beau-Rivage practically defines luxury. It's a perfect choice for delegations to the IOC, or for anybody whose boss is footing the tab. 410-680/470-780 Chf singles/doubles
The city-owned power company, SIL, has now added high speed internet by cable to its C.V., and along with that has been installing totally free wireless access points around town, notably in Place Palud, the Flon valley, and on the hill of Montbenon near the casino. It's rare now to find a café in Lausanne which doesn't have access to one of these. As an aside SIL also provides a range of wines to those same cafés including a nice little Chardonnay, and a fairly bold Gamay. Neat huh?
- Metropole 2000, rue des Terreaux 15-19, . A multi-level shopping mall which was built as an add-on to the Metropole theater and tower has wireless access in each of its 3 food courts and 7 restaurants. Free
- Shiva Cyber-Bar, rue du Grand Pont 10 (Metro M2 to flon), . 6AM-2AM every day. Shiva is a nice enough bar to warrant placement in the Drink section above, and there's a decent internet cafe upstairs. The connectivity is usually quite good and although the machines do not have an ssh client installed there's no limit running programs off of the net. The catch: abnormally high prices on just about everything. 5 Chf coffee 8 Chf beer.
- Fragbox, rue de la Tour 3 (in the center of Lausanne, one street above rue de l'Ale. Bus: Place Bel-Air). An amazing cybercafé and permanent LAN party. They speak English, Italian, German and Portuguese. 5.-/hour and goes down to 2.-/hour with coupons. It's a highly equipped center, with 35 computers. You can install any software you need.
Lausanne, like most of Switzerland, is pretty safe in general. You are only likely to run into problems just outside of the entrances of popular dance clubs near closing time, when imported tensions sometimes show themselves. Name a conflict worldwide, odds are that both sides are represented among young people in Lausanne.
- CHUV , rue du Bugnon 46. +41 21 314 11 11 or dial 144 for emergency telephone assistance (in French). 24 hour emergency medical care at this the University Hospital of Canton Vaud.
- Hôpital d'Enfance rue Montétan 16. +41 21 213 77 77 or dial 144 for emergency telephone assistance. 24 hour emergency medical care for babies and children.
- Hôpital Ophtalmique Jules Gonin, ave de France 15. For emergency on problem on the eye.
- Pharmacie 24 SA +41 21 613 12 24. 8am and midnight every day. This service provides for pharmacy service at one or more Lausanne pharmacies between. Call for the pharmacy open nearest you. Be ready to state your current address in French, or have someone at reception do it.
- Parmacie de la Gare, in the train station. If you are staying in the old town this will almost certainly be the pharmacy you are referred to by 24 SA at least until it closes at 10pm.
One of the nicest ways to spend an afternoon anywhere is to take a boat from the port of Ouchy on the Lakefront of Lausanne to either Vevey or Montreux. The Steamboats of the CGN offer you an amazing view of one of the most gorgeous corners of our planet. On the left side of boat the you can take in the beautiful vineyards of Lavaux, and on the right side the Masif of Chablais, and the franco-swiss alpine giants, the Dents de Midi.
Here's a partial list of selected daytrips, in order of distance:
- Lavaux - Terraced vineyards and one of the prettiest landscapes anywhere streching between Lausanne and Vevey.
- Vevey - A lovely city in a cove, and the corporate home to the Nestlé chocolate and food empire.
- Montreux - The jewel of the Swiss Riviera
- Evian - The French bottled water capital. 40 minutes by steamboat.
- Geneva - The international capital by default, only 33 minutes by rail
- Leysin - A super laid back ski resort in the Vaud alps above Montreux, about 45 minutes by train.
- Verbier - A popular ski resort in western Valais, about an hour by train.
- Berne - The swiss capital. 70 minutes by rail.