Fun facts about the Lausanne metro

The Lausanner
The Lausanner
March 5, 2021

Ah, the Lausanne metro, what would we do without it? Even though the Lausanne hills rival those of San Francisco and form part of the city’s appeal, we would prefer not to arrive at work or a day-time meeting all hot and bothered. This is where the metro comes in! Linking Ouchy-Olympique with Croisettes, the M2 makes life easy for Lausanne’s inhabitants and visitors wanting to cross the city in no time at all. And if we were to tell you that the metro hides a lot more secrets than you can ever imagine? Well, we are now going to reveal 7 fun facts of which you were (perhaps) unaware about Lausanne’s famous metro.

1. It’s Switzerland’s only metro

Yes, you’ve read it correctly. You will look in vain for any other Swiss city currently with a metro. By stepping into the Lausanne metro you have the privilege (we’re not exaggerating, of course!) of embarking on an experience unique in Switzerland. OK, it just a metro although it’s still a bit strange to say that the first metro in Switzerland is fairly recent as the first line (M1) was opened in 1991 and the second (M2) in 2008.


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Une publication partagée par Lausanne Tourist Board (@thelausanner)

2. The person who announces the stops on the M2 is well known

The “Guet de Lausanne” (the Watchman) – does that mean anything to you? Let me refresh your memory: the Watchman is the city’s oldest tradition – more than 600 years old, in fact. At that time the Watchman was responsible for watching over the town (literally!) from the cathedral’s belfry. Now his job is to call out the hours to the city’s inhabitants from 10.00 pm to 2.00 am. A real star in Lausanne! Who better to announce the metro stops to travellers? You will have gathered by now that it’s Renato Häusler, the current Watchman, that you hear when you take the M2.

3. All the little jingles at the metro stops have a meaning

If you have already been fortunate enough to visit Lausanne, you will certainly remember the sound effects just before the announcement of the next stop on the M2. What if we were to say that these sounds were not chosen at random? Every sound has a certain significance for its stop – it’s not for nothing that you hear seagulls at Ouchy or choo-choo-choo at the station and dance steps at the Riponne-Maurice-Béjart stop. If that still does not intrigue you, listen up the next time you take the metro and your trip will gain a whole new dimension.

4. No drivers on the M2

But it isn’t a magic train heading for Hogwarts – it’s for real! This might take you by surprise the first time you travel on the M2 and see a clear glass pane where the driver usually stands in conventional metros. You must have asked yourself how this was possible. It’s quite simple really – it’s an automatic metro! Lausanne is the smallest city in the world to have a metro of this kind. Impressed?

5. You can take a stroll on top of the metro

Well, so that we understand each other, we are not pretending to be James Bond and literally clambering around on the roof of a metro train. But on the other hand you really can walk on top of the line on the underground section from the Délices stop to Ouchy. This stroll, known as the “promenade de la ficelle” (the String Walk) takes its name from the funicular railway which once transported the city’s inhabitants from the train station to the lake and was replaced by today’s metro. It is therefore still possible to go down to the lake by taking “La Ficelle”, but now you take it on foot. A brief glimpse for those with nostalgia for the old days!

©Madeleine et Elisabeth Fontannaz, Les contrôleurs du funiculaire à la station d’Ouchy, photographie, vers 1940 ©Madeleine et Elisabeth Fontannaz, Les contrôleurs du funiculaire à la station d’Ouchy, photographie, vers 1940

6. One of the most instagrammable parts of Lausanne

Not from anywhere – on the contrary. To take THE photo of Lausanne go to the Bessières stop and when you leave the lift just before crossing the Bessières bridge you will find one of the most sought-after views by visitors with the metro in the foreground and the cathedral directly above. This photo speaks for itself, doesn’t it?


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Une publication partagée par Lausanne Tourist Board (@thelausanner)

7. A third metro line is planned

We all know the M1, the students’ favourite line which links Flon with Renens via the EPFL (the Federal Institute of Technology) and the University of Lausanne as well as the M2. And good news! The M3 is on the drawing board and will link the train station with Blécherette via the districts of Chauderon and Beaulieu, amongst others. However, we will have to be patient for a while as the project is not due for completion until 2030.

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