City guide Lausanne
The setting of Lausanne is extremely picturesque: it is hardly surprising that the International Olympic Committee has been based here since 1914. The town is built on three hills, surrounded by vineyard-covered slopes, with Lake Geneva at its feet. Rising impressively from the opposing French lakeshore are the Savoy Alps. The attractive old town is largely car-free. Small alleyways with cafes and boutiques shape the streetscape in the medieval city centre.
The old town is dominated by the cathedral, which is regarded as Switzerland’s most impressive piece of early Gothic architecture. Lausanne was a diocesan town for over a thousand years. Shopping streets can be found surrounding the cathedral as well as in the pretty waterfront area of Ouchy. Switzerland’s only «metro» connects the various parts of the town and eases travel in this incline-based town.
Also worthy of a visit are the parks, containing many Mediterranean plant species, and grand palace hotels like the Beau-Rivage Palace in Ouchy and the Hotel de l'Angleterre, were Lord Byron once stayed. Gourmets will be able to savour many regional specialities in Lausanne such as cabbage-filled sausage with leek gratin called "Papet Vaudois". Mind you, master chef Fredy Girardet who was voted «Cuisinier du siècle» or chef of the century by his colleagues has in the meantime retired and handed over his sceptre in the Hôtel de Ville to his head chef, Philippe Rochat.
Even lovers of culture won’t feel short changed in Lausanne: the collection of marginal art (“Art Brut”) in Beaulieu Castle, the Fondation de l'Hermitage, the «Musée de l'Elysée» photo museum, the pipe museum and many others merit a visit. The offering of theatre productions and musical performances too is above average. Finally, Lausanne is home to the world-famous Béjart Ballet.
The «Olympic capital» is home to the Olympic Committee and also the Olympic Museum, the world’s largest information centre about the Olympic games. But sport in general is given a high profile here, examples of which are the «Lausanne Marathon» and «Athletissima», the international meeting for track and field athletics.
As a city of culture and conferences, Lausanne combines business and pleasure. With the picturesque Old Town, the Olympic centre and the quarter of Ouchy, it is the pride of the Lake Geneva Region.
- Lausanne old town with cathedral – the impressive cathedral is surrounded by beautiful, car-free roads. Since 1405 a watch in the clock tower makes sure there is no fire and shouts out the hours from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.
- Olympic Museum – provides an overview of the history of the Olympic games, from the first 1896 summer games in Athens through to the present day.
- Lake Geneva cruise – paddlewheel steamers and motor vessels highlight the attractions of the Lake Geneva region as seen from the water.
- Musee de l’Art Brut – a unique, worldwide collection of works of art created by outsiders in psychiatric clinics and prisons.
- Fondation de l'Hermitage – the foundation presents changing art exhibitions of the highest calibre in a magnificent setting dating from the 19th century.
- Train des vignes – leisurely train journey onboard the «Train of Vines» from Vevey to Chexbres through the winegrowing region of the Lavaux, high above Lake Geneva.
- Prix de Lausanne – international ballet competition for young talents from throughout the world (January).
- Tour de Romandie – UCI ProTour cycling race through western Switzerland; the most important preparatory race for the Giro d'Italia (April/May).
- Béjart Ballet Lausanne – Béjart settled in Lausanne in 1987 and founded the Béjart Ballet Lausanne – a company of world-class repute. (June and December).
- Fête de Lausanne – spirited town festival with the most diverse of attractions staged on many squares in the town. (June).
- Athletissima – international, world-class track and field athletics meeting, held as part of the Golden League (July).
- «Festival de la Cité» – old town festival with over 120 free cultural events in the side streets of the town of Lausanne (July).
- jazzonze+ Festival Lausanne – since its foundation, the Lausanne Jazz Festival has dedicated its programme to contemporary jazz (October).