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Lausanne – Switzerland’s fourth most populated city – is the Olympic capital of the country.
International sport is strong here. Lausanne is home to the International Olympic Committee, the Court of Arbitration for Sport and more than 50 international sport associations. It also hosted the 2020 Winter Youth Olympics.
Unusually for Switzerland, Lausanne is in a noted wine-growing region, near Lavaux and la Côte.
Lausanne is the smallest city in the world to have a tube, with 28 stations covering the city.
Lausanne is built on the southern slope of the Swiss plateau, giving it a dramatic view over the lake and the Alps.
The Lausanne area includes the villages of Vidy, Cour, Ouchy, Mornex, Chailly, La Sallaz, Vennes, Montblesson, Vers-chez-les-Blanc, Montheron and Chalet-à-Gobet.
Several well known international firms are headquartered here, including tobacco company Philip Morris International. The home of the Tetra pack is here – Tetra Laval, a global packaging corporation, has its HQ here. Nespresso, the pod coffee arm of the Nestlé Group, is based in Lausanne and computer peripherals company Logitech has its headquarters in Lausanne.
There are 46 places listed as Swiss heritage site of national significance here, and the entire old city of Lausanne and the Vernand-Dessus region are listed in the Inventory of Swiss Heritage Sites.
Historic religious buildings include Notre-Dame Cathedral, Swiss Reformed Church of Saint-François, Swiss Reformed Church of Saint-Laurent and the Synagogue at Avenue de Florimont.
Museums include the Lausanne Museum of History, Bibliothèque des cèdres, Beaulieu Castle and the Collection de l’art brut.
There are also museums covering tapestries and textiles, art, design, a botanical museum and gardens and a Roman museum.
Other museums cover geology, zoology, fine arts and archaeology.
The Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland’s archives are here too.
For entertainment, there are a number of superb groups in Lausanne, including the Orchestre de chambre de Lausanne, the Lausanne Opera and the Ensemble vocal de Lausanne.
Every January, a famous dance competition the Prix de Lausanne, takes place at the Palais de Beaulieu, which is the biggest theatre in Switzerland. The week-long event attracts dancers and big names in dance from all over the world.
The Swiss Film Archive is in Lausanne, making the city a natural home for several festivals celebrating the silver screen. Among the many film festivals is the Festival cinémas d’Afrique and the Lausanne Underground Film and Music Festival. There are many modern cinemas here, but enthusiasts may wish to visit the 1920s cinema the Capitole – the biggest cinema in Switzerland with 867 seats. The city also has the biggest theatre in the country. Size isn’t everything though…
The city hosted the Eurovision Song Contest in 1989, after Celine Dion’s victory in Dublin the year before. The contest was held at Palais de Beaulieu, a convention and exhibition centre, which includes the 1,844 seat Théâtre de Beaulieu concert, dance and theatre hall.
In July, the old town hosts the Festival de la cité. Other music festivals include the Bach Festival, the Festival et concours Bach de Lausanne, which follows the Nuit de musées (museums’ night) in the autumn.
Lausanne is also the home of the Béjart Ballet.
Lausannne moved to its current position after the fall of the Roman Empire, as its people were seeking a site that was easier to defend. Its place on a hill made it perfect to see oncoming invaders. The city was then ruled by the Dukes of Savoy and the Bishop of Lausanne before coming under Bern from 1536 to 1798.
The takeover saw several of Lausanne’s treasures removed, including the hanging tapestries in the cathedral. Sadly, Lausanne has never got them back, despite repeated requests.
In 1685, Lausanne became a refuge for French Huguenots. In 1729, a seminary was opened. Their persecution ended in 1787 and the Lausanne seminary was finally closed in 1812.
From the 1950s to 1970s, a large number of Italians, Spaniards and Portuguese people settled in Lausanne, which transformed the food on offer in the city.
The city has long welcomed outsiders and is renowned for offering refuge to artists from all over Europe. The poet T S Eliot composed most of his 1922 work The Waste Land (by the waters of Leman I sat down and wept), while in psychiatric care here. Writer Ernest Hemingway is also said to have holidayed here with his wife in the 1920s and many creatives including historian Edward Gibbon and Romantic era poets Shelley and Byron have spent time in Lausanne.
The city, like much of Switzerland, is peaceful. However, a series of demonstrations were held here in the late 1960s and early 1970s which showed tensions between young people and the police.
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Hillside living, with dramatic views of the surrounding mountains, make Lausanne one heck of a place to live. Culturally rich, with tonnes of sporting facilities, Lausanne offers more than most places in terms of actual stuff to do.
Despite the city being commercially very active, you could get the feeling you are permanently on holiday, nestled here.
The lovely, historic old town is nearly free of cars and features many little alleyways, strewn with cafes and gorgeous boutiques in medieval buildings.
The cathedral is regarded as Switzerland’s most impressive early Gothic architecture.
The parks contain many Mediterranean plant species, and there are spectacular grand palace hotels like the Beau-Rivage Palace in Ouchy and the Hotel de l’Angleterre, which once welcomed Lord Byron as its guest.
If you’re scoping out Lausanne as a potential home and are her for a visit, have a look at the collection of marginal art in Beaulieu Castle, the photo museumand try to find time for one of Lausanne’s many theatre productions and musical performances – if you can catch the world renowned Béjart Ballet, you’re in for a treat…
Lausanne has an extensive network of local, national and international public transport. National and international passenger trains stops at Lausanne railway station, which is also a stop on the city’s metro. The tube and local buses are operated by Transports publics de la région lausannoise (TL). Many routes run using trolleybuses and there are extra commuter trains run by the Lausanne–Echallens–Bercher railway (LEB) from Lausanne-Flon station. Boats are laid on by the Compagnie Générale de Navigation sur le lac Léman (CGN) and go across Lake Geneva.
Lausanne was the first city in the country to gain a rubber-tyre metro. They are hoping to expand the tube system and re-introduce trams.
Lausanne is connected to the A1 between Geneva and Zürich and to the A9 between Italy and France.
Lausanne Airport is at Blécherette – it also houses a Boeing 737 Simulator. You can catch a direct train to the Geneva International Airport, four times an hour, in 42min.
Lausanne is home to many museums, including Archizoom, Musée Bolo, Olympic Museum (Musée olympique), Musée de l’Élysée, Fondation de l’Hermitage [fr], Collection of Outsider Art (Collection de l’art brut), Museum of Contemporary Design and Applied Arts and Lausanne Museum of History.
There is also the Musée Arlaud and a science centre for children.
There’s a Museum of the Hand, an aquatics attraction and botanical gardens to see here too.
Scores of art galleries add to the cultural mix in Lausanne.
For sporty people, Lausanne is an epic place to be. There are water sports available on the nearby lake and mountaineering in the nearby mountains. Cycling is a common hobby, featuring the vineyards in the surrounding hills with extensive views and challenging routes.
There is an annual athletics event (Athletissima), road running through the city, the Tour de Romandie road cycling race, Marathon of Lausanne and triathlon competition, among other events. Lausanne people love their ice hockey and football, and people can join the Lausanne Hockey Club, the Lausanne-Sport Football Club, or choose from clubs offering rowing, American football and rubgy.
Not only does Lausanne host the HQ of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), other international sport associations include the European Athletics Association (EAA), the International Baseball Federation (IBAF), the International Federation for Equestrian Sports, the International Fencing Federation, the International Golf Federation, the International Federation of Gymnastics, the International Hockey Federation and the International Rowing Federation. There’s also the International Skating Union (ISU), the International Swimming Federation, the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), the International Triathlon Union (ITU), the International University Sports Federation (FISU), the International Volleyball Federation, the World Air Sports Federation and the World Archery Federation!
Lausanne plays host to some world class education and research establishments including private schools attended by students from around the world.
These include the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), the University of Lausanne (UNIL), the HEC Lausanne, Faculty of Business and Economics of the University of Lausanne, the University Hospital of Lausanne (CHUV), a hospital centre with associated research, and École hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL). There is also the École cantonale d’art de Lausanne (ECAL), the International Institute for Management Development (IMD), the Swiss Graduate School of Public Administration (IDHEAP), AISTS (International Academy of Sports Science and Technology) and the Business School Lausanne (BSL).
Lausanne is also home to a campus of the University of the Nations and Pepperdine University maintains an international study campus in Lausanne.
International schools include École française de Lausanne-Valmont, Lycée Pareto (Italian school), Brillantmont International School, International School of Lausanne, Collège Champittet, Vinet and Alphalif.