Remarkable Walk from Sauvabelin to the Cité
Start: Lake Sauvabelin
End: Château St-Maire
Duration at a stroll: 1 hour
Take the m2 metro from the Lausanne Tourisme information office in Ouchy or the railway station as far as the stop for “Bessières”. As you leave the metro make your way to the “Bessières” stop for bus no. 16 by taking the lift and crossing the bridge on the right-hand pavement. The bus stop is at the end of the bridge. There are 4 buses per hour from Monday to Saturday, and 2 on Sundays. Leave this bus at the “Lac de Sauvabelin” stop and start your walk
Lac Sauvabelin was created in 1888. Since that time, the citizens of Lausanne have taken Sunday walks there and in winter they used to come to skate. Today one can cross it by boat in the summer months or one can stroll around the edge and encounter some quite unusual animals in the vicinity: woolly pigs, grey cows and even a few «booted goats»… not to mention the bats, when night falls.
Boat rentals on Sauvabelin Lake stop mid-October and during Winter. They usually start again on the Easter week-end weather permitting.
The Tour de Sauvabelin was built in 2003 using wood cut from local forests. This building, 35-metres in height, provides a unique 360º panoramic view over the city, the lake, the mountains and the neighbouring countryside. It is well worth the effort of climbing the 151 steps of this pretty spiral staircase in order to enjoy the varied landscapes.
At the foot of the tower, take the path sloping slightly downhill and then turn left. At the next junction, go downhill to the right, following the yellow Tourisme Pédestre signs for walkers. You then reach a square where there is a large wooden hall.
The former Swiss Village
To your right you will see a large chalet. This building was the principal feature of the Village Suisse about a hundred years ago. This village also comprised other smaller chalets, which have since been demolished. It was a location primarily designed for tourists. At that time, Sauvabelin was well outside the city and attracted those who loved fresh air and pastoral landscapes.
Remains of a funicular railway
Until 1948 the arrival station was located very close to these two orange-coloured houses which we are about to walk between for a funicular railway that set off from Place du Vallon, near the Cité. The upper section of this funicular railway, which had been operational since 1899, included a tunnel 105 metres in length where, for several years from 1948 onward, cultivated mushrooms were grown!
The Sauvabelin look-out post
The Signal de Sauvabelin also offers a pretty view out over the city and surrounding area. In the Middle Ages individuals were posted here day and night to keep watch and to provide advance warning in the event of enemy attack. A pile of wood was always kept ready for burning so as to raise the alarm.
Follow the signs for the Camino de Santiago de Compostela as far as the Hermitage.
Former home of David Bowie
The strange house set deep in greenery with a large tile roof and several imposing lightning conductors was for many years the home of none other than David Bowie. More recently it provided the set for the Claude Chabrol film «Merci pour le chocolat» («Nightcap») starring Jacques Dutronc.
The Fondation de l'Hermitage
Some thirty years ago now, the Hermitage estate and its English-style gardens planted with majestic trees was home to the Bugnion family. The mansion, built in about 1850, now houses a famous art gallery. From the lawn, the series of views over the Château St-Maire, the cathedral, the lake and the mountains has lent inspiration to many painters.
From the entrance to the Fondation de l’Hermitage museum, follow the yellow Tourism Pédestre signs to make your way down towards the Cité.
The Hermitage estate
Lausanne city centre may be reached on foot entirely through forest, a rare trait for a city of its size. From the Bois du Jorat woods in the north to the Sauvabelin and Hermitage woods, plant life is omnipresent. At dusk it is not uncommon to encounter roe deer taking advantage of this green corridor to come and graze on the young spring buds of the bushes in the orchards of the Hermitage!
La Place de la Barre square
Even in mid-summer, the water that flows from the old fountain in the Place de la Barre is cool and invigorating. This water actually comes from Pays-d'Enhaut, in the Pre-Alps near Château-d’Oex, which explains its freshness. The city of Lausanne taps water from a hundred and twenty springs spread across the Vaud Plateau and into the Pre-Alps (as well as from Lake Geneva).
Text by Pierre Corajoud,
author of the guide “Flâneries lausannoises” (Strolls through Lausanne ) and the book “Lausanne en méandres” (The Twists and Turns of Lausanne).