Lausanne people: spots made famous by their hosts

July 13, 2017

The town has welcomed a number of celebrities who left their stamp on particular spots. Brief overview of the stars in Lausanne.

Coco Chanel – Palaces and the Bois-de-Vaud cemetery

The French stylist spent several years of her life in Lausanne, in a quest for peacefulness and a view she had seen “nowhere else”. Before buying a house in the Sauvabelin area, she lived amongst other places in the town’s palaces. Traces remain of these stays, such as the Lausanne Palace’s most beautiful suite (on the fifth floor, her lucky number), named the Coco Chanel Suite, while it is believed that one of her dogs is buried in the Beau-Rivage’s pet cemetery.


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As for Coco herself, she is buried in the Bois-de-Vaud cemetery. Her grave is easily recognisable as it is covered in white flowers and adorned with five lions, her favourite animal.

(c) Laurent Kaczor (c) Laurent Kaczor

David Bowie – The Place de la Palud

Assuredly, the Sauvabelin woods attract stars in need of peace and quiet. In 1982, David Bowie acquired the huge Château du Signal that he left 15 years later. In the meantime, he maintained a low profile in Lausanne – to such an extent that his civil wedding was celebrated in the Town Hall next to the Place de la Palud, as for any other Lausanne citizen. The ceremony took place in front of four people, amongst whom the civil registrar, who recently declared having been “very moved, as the parties involved had attached incredible importance and fervour to it”. Which goes to show that Lausanne also has its romantic side.

P. Waterton P. Waterton
L’ancienne demeure de David Bowie ((c) L’ancienne demeure de David Bowie ((c)

John Kerry – The Ouchy Quays

In March 2015, Lausanne hosted negotiations concerning Iran’s nuclear programme. Around the table were seated the United States and John Kerry, their famous Secretary of State. His presence attracted a great deal of media attention, particularly for the meals he shared with his team in some of the town’s restaurants: at the Chat Noir and the Crêperie d’Ouchy. However, it’s his bike tour along the lakeside that was broadcast around the world. The opportunity for a sporting feat: shaking off the journalists lying in wait just outside the Beau-Rivage.

John Kerry en voyage à Lausanne (c) Laurent Gillieron John Kerry en voyage à Lausanne (c) Laurent Gillieron

King Bhumibol of Thailand – The Avenue Tissot and the Denantou Park

In Thailand, the town of Lausanne is very famous. And for good reason, as King Bhumibol spent his youth here. Arrived at the age of six with his mother, sister and brother, the prince attended schools and university in Lausanne. The family lived an ordinary daily life on the Avenue Tissot, then in a house in Pully. Bhumibol became king and returned to Thailand aged 23, where he was considered to be a god from heaven by his people, until his death in 2016.

In 2007, his home country donated to the town a pavilion in the Jaturamuk style, reminiscent of a miniature royal palace. An unusual construction covered in gold leaf that is worth visiting.

Le Pavillon Thailandais, Parc Denantou ((c) Mano) Le Pavillon Thailandais, Parc Denantou ((c) Mano)
Le Parc du Denantou et le Pavillon Thaï (c) Laurent Kaczor Le Parc du Denantou et le Pavillon Thaï (c) Laurent Kaczor

Voltaire – The Mon-Repos Park

The famous writer stayed several times in Lausanne between 1755 and 1759. He gave his name to an avenue close to the train station and to the villa located in the centre of the Mon-Repos Park, as he put on two of his theatre plays in the amphitheatre next to the building.

He who owed “(his) happiest days” to Lausanne even interpreted a character from his play Zaïre.

La Maison Mon-Repos et son parc (c) La Maison Mon-Repos et son parc (c)

A few Lausanne figures

The town is also associated with other personalities. One thinks, of course, of Maurice Béjart, the famous choreographer who bequeathed the eponymous Ballet to the town. But also of tennis players Timéa Bacsinszky and Stanislas Wawrinka. Our final mention goes to the funniest of famous Lausanners: Thomas Wiesel, who can be seen regularly in town.

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