10 Reasons to Visit Lausanne, Switzerland
While England likes to throw its name in the hat for a decent winter experience we normally end up with grey slush and a transport system that weeps and collapses at the first sign of frost. For a true winter wonderland where inches of snow settle prettily while 90% of trains are never more than 3 minutes late (tell us your secret), the new winter destination you should know about is Lausanne, Switzerland and here’s why.
One of the strongest draws of Switzerland is its natural beauty; Lausanne is one of the towns that borders Lake Geneva and therefore offers beautiful views over the lake to snow-topped mountains (technically in France but you can only appreciate the views from Lausanne). Take your time soaking in the sights by stopping off at the lakeside restaurant, The Lacustre, for lunch – the name in English actually means ‘the lake’.
It wasn’t going to take us long to get to this reason especially as it’s a major one; glorious, high-quality chocolate is readily available here. If you want to spend the majority of your holiday money on chocolate it’s easily done (and no one would blame you). The Swiss think it’s so good that 54% of Swiss chocolate is eaten by the Swiss themselves, in fact Switzerland has the highest per capita rate of chocolate consumption worldwide. If you’re missing a sweet tooth Lausanne has a craft brewery called La Nebuleuse that does free tours, you can also try their experimental beers at their in-house bar with unusual flavours like shrimp, and coconut.
More natural beauty from this region is Lake Geneva; the only metro in Lausanne runs from the centre of town to its final destination of the lake in less than 15 minutes. The lake is shared by France and Switzerland and therefore has different rules and regulating bodies for their section of the water, someone jet skiing in Switzerland would get a swift telling off if they ventured over to the French section. A breakfast cruise on the lake takes you over to Evian in France and back, combining the best of the city, lake and mountains.
Fans of sport and museums unite for the world’s largest centre of information on the Olympic movement at the Olympic Museum right next to the lake. Covering the history and ideals of the historic games, the museum houses permanent and temporary exhibits. Get involved by seeing if you can beat Usain Bolt’s 100m record on the outdoor timed track (no one has surprisingly), lifting Olympic shot puts (they’re heavy) and walking under the world record high jump at the entrance (it’s ludicrously high).
This one may be a surprise as Swiss wine isn’t exactly a big player on any wine menu you’ll see in London but there is a valid reason for that: Switzerland doesn’t export wine on a mass scale. Countries they do export to include Japan and Canada, besides that any vino made is mostly kept for themselves. Fancy sampling this rare found elixir for yourself? Lavaux Vineyard Terraces, a World Heritage Site, is located on Lake Geneva and has amazing views of the vineyard, lake and mountains.
Walk through the cobbled streets of old town through to new town where you can purchase a selection of fresh food and other products from the farmers’ market. Locals and tourists alike mingle around together which is great for newbies of the town to wander around and enjoy the hum of the town. Investigate winding roads and steep stairs that take you up to the Lausanne Cathedral, the biggest one in Switzerland with the biggest organ too – not that size matters of course.
The 5-star hotel, one of 4 in Lausanne from the same group, easily adds a touch of glamour to the Lausanne experience; their cosy Cuban bar is ideal for a pre/post-dinner drink. The outside of the building is also covered in fairy lights over Christmas which makes it a sight for sore eyes at night; just outside the hotel towards the bridge you can also see the cathedral lit up on the hill.
Collection de l’Art Brut
This borderline bonkers museum is a collection of art from people who are on the edges of society which varies from psychiatric asylums to prisons and generally people who didn’t consider themselves to be typical artists. The art on display comprises of relatively tame self-portraits to tattoos on human skin to sexually graphic tapestry. The stories of artists are definitely worth a read like the man who was admitted to an asylum and then didn’t speak for 50 years which was well after his release (his art was items created out of thatching and turned into useful objects like oversized shoes).
What’s a trip to Switzerland without eating your body weight in melted cheese? Part of the Christmas market is a giant heated igloo serving a selection of fondue, meat plates and classic desserts. For a more sophisticated dining experience head to Brasserie de Montbenon, a short walk from Lausanne Palace, but remember to book first as it stays busy late into the night.
Cupcake Making at Royaume Melazic
While Switzerland is known for their chocolate, there’s a sweet (pun intended) little cupcake shop in Lausanne, run by 2 sisters, where you can buy all sorts of cupcake accessories. More importantly they also run cupcake workshops where you can make 6 mini cupcakes and hand decorate them; one of the filling/frosting options is chestnut, a popular flavour in Switzerland.