This city, the capital of the canton of Vaud, is also rich in terms of its past history… from the Lousonna of Roman times to the European city of today. It has always been a crossroads between the north and the south, the North Sea and the Mediterranean. Its “cité”, dominated by the 13th-century Gothic cathedral (4 towers, 105 stained glass windows), was built in the Middle Ages, from which there still remains a magnificent architectural and artistic heritage, cobbled streets and buildings which are home to flourishing stores, artisan workshops and friendly bistros.
In its natural setting, said by some to be the loveliest landscape in the world, with over 150,000 inhabitants (360,000 in the whole conurbation), Lausanne is a city that lives in the country. It overlooks Lake Geneva (the largest lake in central Europe and perhaps the most elegant in the world!) and extends among vineyards, forests of fir trees and the countryside. It comes as no surprise that it is among the greenest cities in Europe! It was built in a hilly area, from Ouchy, its “bathing resort” (372 m high), to Le Chalet-à-Gobet, its “winter resort” (876 m high). Reflected in the waters of the lake, Lausanne offers stunning panoramic views over Evian and the Savoy Alps, between the Dents du Midi and Mont-Blanc, and at the same time borders the Lavaux vineyard, a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It feels good to stay in this small city with the appearance of a metropolis, laid out on a human scale and with a welcoming ambiance. Urban tourism here adopts an expression of hospitality for everyone – children, the young and not-so-young, business people, culture vultures, athletes – and does it all against a backdrop combining the beauty of the location with architectural aesthetics, the tranquillity of old districts and the vitality of the modern city. All the services of a tertiary capital can be found here: banks, insurance companies, international organisations, major corporations, vocational schools and, most notably, a vast range of hotels in every category with a total capacity in excess of 7,000 beds spread over sixty or so establishments. Commercial activity is booming here, made up of small shops and large retail outlets, stores selling top brands, restaurants, bars and cafés, and nightclubs whose fame transcends borders…
As true witnesses to a rich past and symbols of modern culture in all its forms, more than 20 museums covering history, sciences, fine arts, contemporary arts and photography are on offer for visitors here, most notably the Hermitage Foundation and its prestigious exhibitions, The Olympic Museum, the acclaimed Collection de l’Art Brut, the Musée de l’Elysée dedicated to photography, the Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts and the Swiss Film Archive (one of the first ten in the world). Aquatis, the largest aquarium-vivarium in Europe opened on the heights above Lausanne in 2017. Visitors can discover aquatic fauna and flora from five continents, with more than two million litres of water for around 50 aquariums/vivariums/terrariums. Lausanne can pride itself on the exceptional wealth of its cultural assets: opera, theatres (including the Théâtre Vidy-Lausanne), music (Chamber Orchestra, Lausanne Vocal Ensemble) and, of course, dance in the form of the Béjart Ballet Lausanne, which is based in the city, and other reputable companies. Avant-garde productions, DJs from all over the world, jazz cellars, art galleries – there’s something for everyone!
All of the above and the sporty image of the city combine to produce a really packed calendar of events. The cultural calendar is bursting with dates not only in the evenings but also during the day, particularly during the “Lausanne Estivale” programme: more than 400 free shows from June to September. The high season is also that of the Festival de la Cité, an open-air multicultural festival which is the only one of its kind in Europe: more than 80 different shows and 200 free performances, hundreds of artists, 100,000 spectators…
When it comes to sport, as well as major events (world championships, cycling stage stopovers, Davis Cup events etc.), every year Lausanne organises the Athletissima meeting, integrated into the Diamond League, the Lausanne Marathon (42.195 km through the vineyards overlooking Lake Geneva!), the Lausanne 20-km race, the Lausanne Triathlon, Lausanne International Cross Country Championships and 3×3 Lausanne Masters Basket. In 2011, the city also set up and hosted the World Gymnaestrada, which welcomed 19,000 gymnasts of 55 different nationalities over the course of a week. The Youth Olympic Games will be held in the city from 10 to 22 January. The world’s top athletes will gather in Switzerland to take part in the biggest winter multi-sport event after the Olympic Games.
Other events are connected to the multiple activities staged at the Beaulieu Lausanne conference and exhibition centre: conferences, lectures, exhibitions, professional or public-access trade fairs such as Swiss’expo, Habitat-Jardin, Mednat Expo and Agrobiorama Expo, Junior Days, Comptoir Suisse national trade fair, Salon Plus retirement fair, Babyplanet, Gastronomia, Employment and Training Fair and the International Arms Fair, Salon du marriage, Street Food festival.
There is no doubt that Lausanne’s youthful image stems from its growing reputation as a city of learning, being home to nearly 200 public and private schools. It has a university (eight faculties) and the constantly evolving Federal Institute of Technology, which combine to form the second biggest university campus in Switzerland (with its own metro link to the city centre), institutes specialising in international corporate management (such as the IMD, one of the most prestigious in the world) and in public administration, vocational schools along the lines of the Lausanne Hotel School (the first in the world), numerous private educational establishments, art schools, including the ECAL, the HEMU and the Rudra-Béjart School and Studio. It goes without saying that this student body has stimulated the establishment of numerous sporting amenities, public facilities and other young businesses.
Lausanne, which since 1915 has been home to the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the main institutions linked to the Olympic Movement, was promoted to the rank of Olympic Capital in 1994; Today, some 50 international sports federations and organisations are based in Lausanne and its region, all factors that make it worthy of being considered the global administrative centre for sport. Opened in 2006, the “Maison du sport international” (MSI) houses several of these bodies and is constantly growing.
In addition, several hundred societies and clubs engage in their activities in Lausanne, proving every day that this is a playground for sports, from the lake where water sports are practised to the forests above the town, with their networks of hiking, mountain biking and Nordic skiing trails, via a magnificent 18-hole golf course and the whole spectrum of outdoor and indoor sports. Lausanne is also home to establishments for sports studies and sports management training courses.
Its strategic geographical location, industrial and commercial networks and hospitality infrastructure have helped Lausanne to become established as a dynamic city of business and conventions. A member of the Switzerland Convention and Incentive Bureau, Lausanne is in a position to host major meetings of this kind; the MCH Beaulieu Lausanne (5,000 places for conventions and seminars, 30 000 m2 of exhibition space), the futuristic SwissTech Convention Center (3,000 places for conventions and seminars) and the specialist services of Lausanne Tourisme guarantee, on request, the organisation from A to Z and all the logistics (except for scientific content) of any national or international congress. Several hotels are also equipped to host seminars and conventions.
In Lausanne two out of every three travellers are business people or congress delegates; they are fortunate enough to have at their disposal high-performance work systems and hotels, whilst enjoying the city’s social and recreational facilities.
Lausanne is truly green by nature. Extending from the floral quays of Ouchy to the forest of Jorat in the north, surrounded by the Lavaux vineyards to the east and those of La Côte to the west, the city also owns 350 hectares of public parks and gardens perfect for walks and relaxation.
Visitors can admire the green assets of the city by taking any of the environmentally friendly means of transport provided for them: self-service cycle hire, a state-of-the-art metro, natural gas-powered or electric buses, or solar-powered boats.
Lausanne has made sustainable development one of the spearheads of its local government policy for many years. It excels particularly well in energy and waste management, in the development of renewable energies and in raising levels of awareness among its residents.
We are in a city and a region with a plethora of catering establishments… as demonstrated by the record number of restaurants awarded stars, toques, flowers and other marks of quality, from local food to gourmet cuisine, from brasserie meals to exotic delicacies, from little bistros to exclusive restaurants. A certain Fredy Girardet, who was dubbed the “chef of the century” and handed on his restaurant to Philippe Rochat, who in turn passed it on to Benoît Violier in April 2012, has been much emulated by young chefs. Franck Giovannini succeeded him after his demise. Lausanne is also home to Anne-Sophie Pic, the first woman to be voted chef of the year by the Michelin guide, who supervises proceedings at the gourmet restaurant of the Beau-Rivage Palace hotel, and to Edgard Bovier, who serves his food in the sumptuous setting of the Lausanne Palace & Spa.
Since tourists simply have to sample local produce and specialities, particular mention must be made of fillets of perch from the lake, char and ferra from Lake Geneva, papet vaudois (cabbage sausage) and, of course, fondue, raclette, gâteau à la raisinée, tarts and specialities made from good Swiss chocolate… all washed down with white and red Vaudois wines!
Lausanne has enjoyed a first-class reputation for medical care for three centuries, even since a certain Dr Tissot looked after patients who came here from far and wide. The tradition has flourished, given that the city is home to the University Hospital Centre (CHUV), several private clinics and offices, and a good number of specialist practices. Hospitals and clinics use cutting-edge technologies, whilst ensuring that patients from all over the world receive the standards of hospitality, comfort and service expected from today’s top hospitals.
Together with several research centres based in the region, the CHUV, the University and the Institute of Technology of Lausanne participate in highly advanced programmes of clinical excellence; this is work of global interest earning the city the privilege of hosting numerous international medical conventions.