Today the Saint-François church sits in the most spectacular place in the Lausanne of the turn of the last century. The Post Service building, banks, large stores and a great deal of traffic have surrounded the gothic building, the only remaining medieval church in the city besides the Cathedral, since the beginning of the last century.
Its construction is linked to another important stage in the city’s development, the 12th and 13th centuries. That is when the Franciscan monks were sent for, here and in many other quickly growing European cities, to ensure religious service. The church and the adjacent monastery were built around 1270 on the southern edge of the city. The construction required that a perimeter wall be moved, and it was probably brought into the church, on the line of the chancel. This circumstance gives the building its most distinctive feature: the chancel has four sides, an even number, with a corner at the centre instead of a wall. The bell tower, which dates back to the beginning of the 15th century, takes its design from the cathedral. The church’s different extensions over the course of its history have not altered its harmonious simplicity, reflecting the spirit of the Franciscan order.