Need to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life? Fancy a getaway and stuck for ideas where you want to go? Well look no further we’re here to help!
We recently spent the weekend in Lausanne, Switzerland and we couldn’t have chosen a more beautiful setting to enjoy! With lots of places to visit and things to do, food that will make any palette water with lust and scenic views across Lake Geneva of the Alps (and searing heat we did not expect nor were prepared for), we couldn’t have chosen a more perfect place for our first Perfect Getaway.
After arriving at Geneva airport, we took the train down to Lausanne (the French-speaking part of Switzerland). We have to state right now that the Swiss transport system is such a joy to use, the trains are clean, tidy and peaceful, Instantly, I felt relaxed as we boarded. On arrival in Lausanne, we were greeted by our guide and host Alexa from the Lausanne Tourisme before boarding the driverless metro, which was only opened up in 2007 and is the best way to travel, We took a short ride down to Ouchy where our Hotel was based on the shores of Lake Geneva. A major plus is the fact that all hotels in Lausanne give away tickets to use on the Metro – and all local transport – free of charge.
Our hotel, Château d’Ouchy, a 44-starchateau dating back to the 12th century, is an important landmark in Lausanne especially for its noble bearings and history that dates back for centuries. Even the smallest of rooms are luxurious, clean and well lit and those who are fortunate enough have stunning views of Lake Geneva and the Alps from their windows. The Chateau also consists of a swimming pool outside on their grounds, a very trendy bar area and restaurant on the terrace, looking out over Lake Geneva. Once we had settled in, we gathered back in the restaurant for a spot of lunch, Seeming as this is a port town, fish is very prominent on the menu, so I just had to indulge in the roasted seabass and I certainly wasn’t disappointed.
Once lunch was over it was time to start our adventure around this beautiful city, We were given a guided tour with our first stop, and quite rightly so, was at La Chocolatiere, found on Avenue de Mon-Repos, A tiny little Chocolate shop where they make fine hand-made Swiss chocolate, all from scratch. La Chocolatiere was established in 1970 by Jean-Claude Currat, who in 2012 handed over the shop to its current owner, Mercedes Assal; A loyal customer who just couldn’t bear to see the shop close down. We were fortunate enough to be given a tour of the shop and kitchens, where all the chocolate is made on site. We were given a brief, quick lesson of how to make the perfect chocolate and had our own little chocolate tasting session. The chocolates were absolutely gorgeous but very rich it wasn’t long before we were reaching for a glass of water.
It was then time to walk off all that chocolate, as we explored the very steep streets of Lausanne as we were given a history lesson of the different areas. One of note was the stunning 13th Century Gothic Cathedral, located within short distance of the metro stop Riponne-Maurice Bejart, Steeped in so much history this beautiful building was built in several stages, the first being in 1170. Not only does the Cathedral house an Organ which is the only one of its kind in the world but there is some medieval paintwork still visible in the Chapel of the Virgin. Its statues were also painted in colour but during the reformation these were covered over until restoration of the Cathedral started in the early 20th century. If you wish to take a guided tour of the Cathedral, between the 1st of July and 20th of September guided tours are free of charge.
To finish off our guided tour before we headed back to the hotel to freshen up, we were taken around the pedestrian area which houses a typical open air market. Which at that point of the day was not in flow, we would have to come back the following morning to experience the local market.
The evening came around quickly and with it a beautiful summer evening. We left our hotel and travelled back into the town centre on the Metro (which literally took all of about 10 minutes at most), alighting at Lausanne-Flon. Flon is one of the trendy areas of the city, pulsating with life it has to be the most modern part of the city. It’s home to many retail outlets, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, art galleries and many more evening and daytime activities. There are also regular events held in Flon, many taking place in the Esplanade du Flon, the district’s central square. Even though this is the most vibrant part of Lausanne’s and where everyone comes to experience the nightlife, the feel of the area is extremely relaxed and friendly, certainly a far cry from anything you would experience in central London.
Our first stop of the night was at the open air bar, Les Arches, for aperitif. The bar was buzzing with people relaxing after a long day at work and in the heat of the night this was a perfect setting to set the night off on a high, Despite being plied with meat, cheese and wine while here we couldn’t help but notice the very sizable cocktails the locals where drinking, upon arrival at Les Arches all I could smell were mojitos; and they smelt so good, and measures weren’t they weren’t stingy either.
From here we ventured over to the main quarter of Flon to take a look around at the fabulous modern street art and architecture. We also discovered a bar called FlonPlage, basically it’s outside and decked out like a beach with sand as the flooring. Unfortunately, we didn’t stop for a drink as we had dinner reservations on the terrace of Le Nomade The menu of Le Nomade offered an array of mouth watering and healthy dishes, I decided to opt for the Salmon Steak coated with honey and Soja sauce with Japanese Noodles and vegetables, All I could say was “wow” the Salmon just melted in the mouth and the tastes were heaven on the tongue. One thing that needs to be stated is the waiters are extremely attentive; you hardly get a chance to finish your glass of wine before you notice it has been filled back up again. For dessert I thought I would stay with something light and decided to indulge in the Rum and Raisin Sorbet, which was more more-rum-than-raisin, leaving a big smile on my face.
At this point we were all due to visit Mad nightclub just around the corner from the restaurant, but after such a long day and feeling a little too full from dinner all we wanted to do was sleep so we headed back to Ouchy and our hotel for the best nights peaceful sleep we could have experienced.
The morning was ours to do whatever we wanted; we decided to take the trip back into town to experience the famous local market we had heard about. Meandering through the busy market we witnessed a lot of stalls of an array of vegetables, flowers and delicatessen items, such as Olives available to buy, Considering the Swiss are famous for their cheese we were disappointed at the lack of variety they had on offer. We only found two stalls and these were extremely small. We stopped off at a local café for a coffee and to bake in the sun where we were accompanied by a street musician which gave an authentic Swiss feel to our morning.
For lunch, we all had to meet with our guide, Alexa at the traditional Swiss restaurant Café du Grütl where they served up the very traditional dish of fondue with bread and thin slices of cured ham for starters. The fondue will only appeal to a certain type of palette, the smell is like old socks, but the taste of melted strong cheese was superb, even though you couldn’t get too much of it as it can be quite salty. A thing of note, most Swiss cafes and restaurants are extremely loyal to the local wines and most dishes will be accompanied by these if you order wine. For the main I opted for the traditional Swiss sausage which was accompanied by French fries.
After lunch came our visit to the Lavaux Vineyards To get there we travelled back down to Ouchy pier to hop into the Belle Epoque Boat (a steam paddle boat) for a cruise on Lake Geneva, the views of the lake and the Alps where truly stunning and gave us a completely different view of Lausanne, which was truly mesmerizing.
*The boat trip between Lausanne to Cully (where the Lavaux Vineyards are based) is reasonably priced with 1st Class one way CHF 20.00 / return CHF 34.00 and 2nd Class one way CHF 14.00 / return CHF 24.00.
Once we reached our destination of Cully, there was a wedding in full swing on the pie and we couldn’t think of a better setting to get hitched. We then boarded a little train, the Lavaux Express, for our excursion through the Unesco World Heritage Vineyards of Lavaux. As far as the eye could see all that was visible were mountains, the lake and the 10,000 terraces of Vines all ready for the winegrowing activities that lay in their future. Once we came to the end of our tour it was time to discover the wine cellar of “Les Frere Dubois” located in the Vineyard of Dezaley, which was established 800 years ago, The Dubois brothers have been producing wine there since 1927 and their classic methods of letting the wine ripen in large Oak barrels brings out the character of their wines. We were given our own private tour of the cellar and were blessed to be able taste some of their finest products.
*The little train runs from 1. April- 1. November, Price: CHF 15.00 for adults / CHF 6.00 for children “Train des caveaux” including visits of wine cellars, tasting of 3 wines + 1 souvenir glass. Price: CHF 25.00 for adults / CHF 6.00 for children.
We made our way back by train to our hotel for a quick freshen up and to get dressed up, as our evening activity was to attend the 30th Anniversary of “Nuit des Images”, an event which has been an integral part Lausanne’s cultural landscape since 2011, at local art musuem Musée de l’Eylsée; which was free for the public to attend. On our short walk from our hotel, up the steepest hill ever experienced in an urban setting – which nearly killed me – we arrived and were greeted by the Director of the Museum, Tatyana Franck (who has a striking resemblance to a young Bridget Nielsen). After her welcoming speech we were given a champagne reception followed by dinner in the park of oversized Sushi, Pizza, Crepe’s filled with Ham and Thai food. Next we were given a guided tour around the museum and escorted to the award ceremony for the prestigious Prix Elysee; winner Martin Kollar took away a prize of CHF 80,000, half of which is to be used to produce his project and half to publish his book.
The festivities carried on for all to enjoy until 2am when the evening came to a close.
*The Museum is open from Tuesday through to Sunday 11am-6pm. Prices: CHF 8.00 for adults/CHF 6.00 for Children. Entry is free on the first Saturday of each month.
Day 3 came with an early rise situation in order to get breakfast down our neck before we had to check out of the hotel, leaving our cases in reception, we ventured out into what must have been the hottest day of our stay. We had a lot to pack into our schedule before we caught our flight home.
Our first stop of the day was a visit to the I.O.C. (International Olympic Committee), this was an extremely special visit. The IOC had never before opened their doors for the public to explore inside the building, but for this weekend only – to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of its seat in Lausanne – everyone was welcome. On our own private tour, we explored the grounds with open ears to the history of the presidents of the IOC and its building. We witnessed where current president, Thomas Bach spends his working day and the conference room where all the members of the committee come together to make some of the most important decisions of the Olympics. While there, we were privileged to be shown a scale model of the new building that will replace the existing one as well as an in-depth talk on its construction.
After a short stroll through the park and along the shore of the lake, we boarded only one of four Aquarelle solar powered boats a boat powered only by solar panels, propelled silently by an electric engine. The ride alongside the shore of Lake Leman was a calming and peaceful one allowing us to drink in the nature that surrounded us. At one point I even contemplated jumping into the lake for a little swim, it looked so inviting. A couple of people in our party were actually allowed to drive the boat, which lead to slight panic as one in particular had filled us of nothing but bad luck stories of his life throughout our whole stay, we thought we might be creating our very own Titanic!
*Solar powered boat trip: Prices: CHF 18.00 for adults / CHF 10.00 children aged 6-16 (under 6 free)
Finally our last stop of our stay, and where we were dropped off from our boat trip, was the Olympic Museum. The Olympic Museum in Lausanne houses permanent and temporary exhibits relating to sport and the Olympic movement. Leading up to the entrance alone is very impressive and gives our own museums a bit of a run for their money. Not only are there a few activities on the green for children to take part in, but it also home the ever burning Olympic flame. Once inside the museum we headed to the state of the art Tom Cafe for lunch, Sat out on the balcony overlooking the spectacular views of the lake we helped ourselves to the open buffet, which was of a very high standard and there was something for everyone, including miniature desserts. Taking the tour of the museum was insightful, set on 3 levels ranging from the history of the Olympic Games, to the costumes worn in representation of each nation over the years, the changing face of the medals and its very own Olympic village where there were many interactive games for all those who visit the museum to experience.
*Olympic Museum: Prices: CHF 18.00 for adults/ CHF 10.00 for all exhibitions.
With an hour to spare we split up and had a wander around town and did a bit of sunbathing on the shores before heading back to Geneva airport for our very short and pleasant flight home.
Lausanne, Switzerland certainly is a beautiful city, the people are friendly and welcoming and their hospitality is first class. Ideal for a short break away, it has a so much to see and do it’s an experience everyone should have at least once in their lifetime!
We want to take this opportunity to thank the Swiss Tourism Board for this wonderful trip to their country and for sponsoring our time there. We will be back.
For more information on Switzerland visit www.MySwitzerland.com or call our Switzerland Travel Centre on the International freephone 00800 100 200 30 or e-mail, for information firstname.lastname@example.org; for packages, trains and air tickets email@example.com.
Swiss International Air Lines
UK to Zurich:
SWISS offers up to 110 weekly flights from London Heathrow, London City, Birmingham and Manchester to Zurich. Fares start from £63 one-way* and 115 return*, including all airport taxes, one piece hold luggage and free ski carriage. (*Please note this is a leading fare and is subject to change, availability and may not be available on all flights. Terms and conditions apply.) For reservations call 0845 6010956 or visit: www.swiss.com
UK & Ireland to Switzerland:
SWISS operates up to 200 weekly flights to Switzerland from London Heathrow, London City, London Gatwick (seasonal during winter), Manchester, Birmingham and Dublin from as little as £38 one-way* (Geneva Economy Light Fare only includes hand luggage). The all-inclusive fares start from £65 one-way*, including all airport taxes.
(*Please note this is a leading fare and is subject to change, availability and may not be available on all flights. Terms and conditions apply.) For reservations call 0845 6010956 or visit: www.swiss.com.