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Lausanne, a family-friendly destination

A town for young kids, children and even teenagers, with their parents or grandparents, must provide a multitude of recreational activities and attractions that are easily accessible. That’s exactly what Lausanne offers. This metropolis on a human scale is also an open-air playing field, from the shores of Lake Geneva with its array of nautical activities to the forests above the town for getting out in nature. The city’s compact size with short distances encourages trips on foot and meandering.

 

To entertain children aged five to ten while their parents visit the town’s must-see spots, Lausanne Tourisme has created a Travel Journal packed with fun and creative activities. Explorations, drawings, games and collages mark the stages of the visit for the kids’ enjoyment.

 

Exploring

Walks in town, by the lakeside, in the forest or the vineyards, the choice is yours! The town and its surroundings are full of curiosities, panoramas and spectacular landscapes that are particularly well suited to be visited on foot. Thus, the Coulée verte (Green Course) is a surprisingly green path that links the train station to Ouchy, following the route of the little rack railway that has been replaced by the metro. The panoramas walk unveils the 10 most beautiful viewpoints from Lausanne, whereas the family walk explores the town’s parks and playgrounds, with a sprinkling of culture.

In Foxtrail treasure hunts, participants set off to discover the town’s mysteries, above and under ground! Both Lausanne trails, with instructions in three languages, are suitable for families with children aged eight and above.

Families with small children will delight in the animal parks around Lausanne. In Sauvabelin, above the town, sheep, goats, pigs and cows belonging to rare species live next to a fairy-tale lake. A true paradise for children! The scene is overlooked by the Tour de Sauvabelin, a magnificent 35-metre-high wooden tower that offers a spectacular 360-degree view on the whole Lake Geneva region.

 

Resources

The Must-Sees guide suggests several walks to discover Lausanne’s key locations and activities, and enjoy all the Olympic capital’s gems. Available in pdf format on the Lausanne Tourisme website or in the tourist information offices.

 

Fun when the sun is shining

Lausanne takes pride in its quality of one of the greenest towns in Europe! The tone has been set: nature is everywhere here: children have large expanses to play and let off steam, teenagers can enjoy the sports grounds… and parents find quiet places to relax between meals and shopping sprees.

More than fifteen public parks and gardens provide breathing spaces that are welcome during a city break. Some are geared towards amusement, others sports or family activities, and others yet present a particular interest: landscape, botanic or ornithological.

Mon-Repos Park turns up a few enjoyable surprises, such as the aviaries of exotic birds, a grotto with a cascade and a fake mediaeval tower. Its café, the Folie Voltaire, offers an organic menu and weekend brunches next to a playground.

Bourget Park, in the south-west of the town, is one of the liveliest places along the shoreline during the summertime. It also conceals some more secret spots, such as its bird sanctuary. On hot summer days, a nocturnal enchantment reveals itself to walkers who know how to remain discreet: the show of fireflies lighting up the pond.

For a spot of good-natured rivalry with the family, head towards the Vidy crazy golf, a stone’s throw away from Bellerive swimming pool. And if the clumsier don’t succeed in getting good scores, they can be cheered up with an ice cream or a cool drink afterwards.

Another place to have fun in Lausanne, the Vallée de la Jeunesse is a fantastic area for roller skaters who can weave and speed for hundreds of yards without crossing a road. Its other highlights are a particularly ingenious play area, a magnificent rose garden, the Invention Space (an interactive science museum for children), as well as a playground and meeting area for kids and those accompanying them.

 

Fun when the skies are grey

When the weather is inclement, the possibilities of distractions for families are numerous and varied: bowling at the Flon and Vidy, a laser game, indoor climbing walls and multi-activity centres.

And why not try a live Escape Game, of which you and your family are the heroes? You’ll enjoy an exhilarating experience and have to demonstrate team spirit to solve clues and decipher mysteries to – perhaps – gain your freedom after an hour of detective work. Guaranteed thrills!

 

Water games

On a hot summer day, what could be more delightful than to dive in cool waters, whether those of Lake Geneva or of one of the town’s swimming pools, or even both? For the past 75 years, Bellerive has been the most popular open-air swimming pool in Lausanne. Right by the lake, in a breathtakingly beautiful natural setting, Bellerive Plage offers quality infrastructure for children and adults alike.

The Pully-Plage swimming pool also provides access to the lake; at Montchoisi, the 50-metre pool is equipped with a wave machine, whereas at Aquasplash in Renens, you’ll get your fill of refreshing and intense sensations, with slides and other games for children of all ages.

For a spin on the water, you can rent a pedal boat, kayak or motorboat, or practise wakeboarding and water-skiing. The trendy thing to do nowadays is stand-up paddle: on a paddleboard, with an oar to propel yourself forwards, your mind can wander as you discover Lausanne from the lake, during a stroll like no other.

If you prefer to enjoy the pleasures of water while keeping your feet dry, choose a walk by the lakeside, on foot, on a scooter, roller skates or a bike. Offering a unique vista over the Alps, the shoreline extends over four kilometres and is a popular spot for Lausanners and visitors alike.

To explore the length and breadth of the largest lake in western Europe, and discover its most beautiful landscapes, neither pedal boat nor stand-up paddle will do the trick. You’ll be better off with a cruise on a boat from the Compagnie Générale de Navigation (CGN), which has the world’s biggest Belle-Époque fleet.

Discovering

Between two dips in the lake, introduce your children to the varied and fun cultural attractions that are provided for them in Lausanne and its region.

Museums to visit with the family

  • The only one of its kind in the world, the Olympic Museum is dedicated to the Olympic movement; children love to step into the shoes of an athlete thanks to the many interactive activities;
  • AQUATIS, the largest aquarium-vivarium in Europe, takes you on an exploration of the most fascinating freshwater environments on planet Earth;
  • Entirely devoted to photography, the Musée de l’Élysée has created “The Studio”, a discovery space for young visitors and families;
  • The Collection de l’Art Brut (Outsider’s Art Collection), which presents the surprising creations of self-taught artists, offers workshops for children, as well as an album with activities and colour pencils to guide children aged six to twelve in each temporary exhibition;
  • At the Vallée de la Jeunesse, the Invention Space presents themed exhibitions on topics as diverse as mechanics, the way our brain works or sources of energy; in this space designed for kids, they’re allowed to touch, experiment and ask questions;
  • The ArchéoLab is a discovery space for budding young inquisitive minds: entertaining puzzles, smart games, a fun experience to share with all the family – embark on a journey back to Roman times!

 

Garden Parties

Music, dance, theatre, street art, storytelling and circus acts all form part of the Lausanne Garden Parties. Over five weekends and in five of the town’s parks, a rich and original programme of cultural events is offered. On Saturday afternoons, the Garden Parties are placed under the banner of discovery for families, with workshops, treasure hunts, walks and storytelling for young and old.

 

Festivals

A free event held every year in Lausanne in July, the Festival de la Cité is surprising, unconventional and lively, and one of the favourite events for Lausanne residents. Kids, teenagers or adults, locals or tourists, the Festival de la Cité is geared to everyone, with a programme that combines theatre with music, acting with dance, circus acts with street art.

The BDFIL festival featuring Swiss and international comics takes place every September in the centre of Lausanne. The programme for this autumn cultural event includes exhibitions, competitions, screenings and activities for adults and kids.

Sports activities

In addition to water leisure activities, families can enjoy their favourite sports during their stay in Lausanne. When the weather is fair, the broad expanse of the Mauvernay Plain with its surroundings woods north of the town offers an extensive range of sports activities: jogging, mountain-bike trails, horse riding, golf or piste VITA, a sports trail with exercise stations that is very popular with the Swiss. When the weather is bad, you can choose between badminton at Malley, tennis at Montchoisi or La Pontaise, or squash in Renens. You can rent all the equipment for an hour, a day or your stay.

The Skatepark Sévelin 36 or HS36 warrants a special mention for teenagers. It’s one of the first indoor facilities in Europe, with a bowl, modular street area, quarter pipes, funboxes, slide bars and ramps for the enjoyment of skateboarders, skaters and other bike triallists from the age of 10. For the outdoor version, head towards the lakeside and the Vidy Bowl, a structure comprising several bowls that is the largest of its kind in Switzerland.

 

Winter activities

Even though Lausanne is on the shores of a lake, there is winter fun to be had here! To enjoy snow activities, go up to the Chalet-à-Gobet, the highest point of the town at 872 metres above sea level. There, the whole family can sledge or you can introduce your children to skiing thanks to the magic carpet at Mauvernay.

To glide gracefully on ice, several ice rinks await you: the largest are in Malley, La Pontaise and Montchoisi: as for the smaller, temporary ice rinks, there is either the one with an urban atmosphere in the Flon or the more picturesque one by the lake in Lutry.

 

The magic of Christmas

The Bô Noël Christmas market enlivens Lausanne during the four weeks of Advent with small thematic markets on all the town centre’s squares. The atmosphere is friendly and the many chalets showcase artwork by local designers. You will taste terroir products, in particular the region’s wine, fondues and sumptuous Malakoff (cheese fritters), not forgetting the unmissable mulled wine and Glühmost.

The Children’s Village, in the heart of the historic quarter of the Cité, welcomes children for storytelling, games and the long-awaited visit of Bô Father Christmas! As there could be no Christmas without a nativity scene, real farm animals wait patiently every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday to be patted by little hands on the Cathedral’s Esplanade.

 

Lausanne Lumières, a festival of lights full of poetry and audacity

Every year, from November to the end of December, Lausanne is brightly illuminated by the contemporary works of fifteen or so artists. Displayed in the streets of the centre and the old town, they form a route with its own mystical atmosphere. A visit that is free and unique in Switzerland!

 

Having fun in the surrounding area

Lausanne is an ideal departure point for adrenaline-filled daily escapades in one of the many amusement parks in the region.

  • At the end of the lake on the Valais side, Aquaparc resembles a tropical oasis in which more than 1,000 metres of slides converge in pools of water heated to 32°C. Fun, thrills and relaxation for the family and children of all ages!
  • Nearby, the miniature trains of the Swiss Vapeur Parc embark you on a discovery of a small-scale world made of surprising replicas of the most beautiful Swiss edifices;
  • To observe from a footbridge a pack of wolves, a bear family and a herd of bison: such is the amazing experience that awaits you at the Juraparc animal park;
  • Closer to Lausanne, the Pré-Vert leisure park offers you a host of activities that will easily keep you entertained for a day: slides, swings, merry-go-rounds, labyrinths, a crazy golf, an 18-hole golf course, a big rope course in the forest, shows for children, beach volleyball, ping-pong, a farm and an indoor games room in case the weather is bad.

Lausanne Tourisme, April 2019

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