THE Swiss city of Lausanne is one of the few in the world to offer skiing in winter and a cocktail under the shade of a
palm tree in the summer.
Spread out over a 500-metre height on the shores of Lake Geneva, the Olympic capital is an ideal destination for a city break. Flights to Lausanne
take less than two hours from Bristol and 50 minutes by train from Geneva Airport.
The city, which dates back to the fourth century AD, sits against the backdrop of the Alps and at the foot of the largest lake in central Europe.
Our base for three nights was the Hotel Mirabeau – a Best Western Plus, which is a 400-metre walk from the train station and 15 minutes from the water’s edge.
We were greeted by friendly staff and enjoyed a comfortable and spacious suite with panoramic views of the lake from the balcony. Getting
around couldn’t be easier using a travel ticket on the metro and trolleybus, with a bus stop directly outside our hotel but it’s a great city to explore on foot.
Our sightseeing took us along the paved streets of the medieval city to the many iconic buildings, art galleries, designer boutiques and restaurants.
Perched high above the rooftops is the 13th century Cathedral of Notre Dame which is the largest and most beautiful gothic church in Switzerland.
Every night the cathedral’s famous night watchman calls out the hour, something he has been doing since 1405.
It is home to a 105-panel rose window and an impressive organ boasting 7,000 pipes.
Nearby we found the former Bishop’s Palace which houses the Lausanne History Museum
and provides an insight into life in and around the city.
Just in front of the cathedral we discovered the picture perfect steps of Escaliers du Marche and the beautiful café ‘Barbare’ which served us a heart-stopping hot chocolate.
One of the city’s trendy restaurants The Brasserie du Grand-Chene at the five star Lausanne Palace and Spa is an ideal place to stop for lunch in between shopping or sightseeing.
With its solid wood staircase and green leather seats that have hosted stars such as Monica Bellucci and The Rolling Stones, you will find the charm of the Parisian brasseries of old. Its popularity is a testament to the quality of food and service.
During our three-night stay we chose to eat at the fashionable Le Nomade in the trendy district of The Flon where the cost of the meal was above average but the presentation was impressive.
The Flon boasts avant-garde architecture and is a hot-spot for Swiss nightlife. We also dined at the restaurant in our hotel, which is praised by the locals, and sampled exceptional Swiss and French fine dining in its artdeco inspired restaurant. On our last night we visited Café du Grutli. The rustic restaurant lies within one of the oldest buildings in the city, dating to 1849. It is run by husband and wife Heike and Willi Prutsch, who pride themselves on their warm welcome and excellent service and didn’t
disappoint. We enjoyed the traditional dish papet vaudois’ (leek vegetables with sausage) but cheese lovers might want to order its renowned fondue made with Swiss Le Gruyere cheese.
If you are searching for a glass of the city’s regional wine and traditional Swiss dishes then visit the oldest bistro in Lausanne ‘Pinte Besson’ on the
Rue de l’Ale which dates back to 1780.
It’s impossible not to visit a chocolatier while in a country famous for its chocolate. Master chocolatier Dan Durig, of Durig Chocolatier, gave us a masterclass in the art of chocolate-making, which needs to be booked in advance, during which we had a go at making our own chocolate figurines.
Just a short walk towards the lake and you will arrive at the impressive Olympic Museum in the former fishing port of Ouchy. The state-of-the art museum is the only one of its kind in the world, spans more than 2,200 years and contains 87,000 items. Set over three floors, visitors
are can explore huge audiovisual demonstrations of iconic Olympic images and interactive exhibits for both young and old and is truly inspiring. Its current exhibition ‘The Olympic Games: Behind the Screen: an exploration of the world of Olympic broadcasting’ runs at the museum until January
26, 2016. Lausanne is also home to the Unesco world heritage site –
the Lavaux Vineyard which is made up of 10,000 terraces. The Lavaux Express (a Dotto road train) runs up past the terraces of vines to give you breathtaking views of the lake and mountains opposite. Tours run during the high season.
If you are planning a trip to Lausanne’s popular Christmas Market in December you will be able to experience the magical Festival Lausanne Lumieres which brings the city to light using light sculptures and projections such as glowing public benches, clouds and animals on walls and rooftops, alongside the traditional Christmas decorations.
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