48 Luxurious Hours In Lausanne, Switzerland

48 Luxurious Hours In Lausanne, Switzerland

Refined and ravishing in equal measure, Switzerland’s prettiest city is perfect city weekender material for travellers craving nature, culture and cuisine.

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is the sort of elegant and picturesque city that
immediately evokes daydreams about moving here, taking a grand
Belle Époque apartment on the lakeshore, and spending your days
writing novels or painting watercolours. And for centuries,
romantic and creative souls have done precisely that: this pretty
university city, just 40 minutes from Geneva, cast a lifelong spell
over such luminaries as F Scott Fitzgerald, Coco Chanel and David
Bowie. Today, Lausanne makes for a big-impact, low-stress
city break, where museum-hopping can be combined with vineyard
visits, boating on the lake and chilled afternoons spent at a local

Day one

After dropping your bags at your majestic hotel, Château
, wander along the lakeside promenade, pausing to admire
the grand Beau-Rivage Palace, where Coco Chanel spent her later
years. The French designer is buried in Lausanne’s Bois-de-Vaux Cemetery – a worthy pilgrimage for
die-hard fashion fans – where her neighbours include Pierre de
Coubertin, founder of the International Olympic Committee, and
famed French lexicographer Paul Robert.

Walk a few minutes’ further along the lakefront to reach
Lausanne’s glorious Olympic Museum, which charts the surprisingly dramatic
and inspiring history of the international games that have been
headquartered here since 1915. From retro posters and historic
sportswear to fascinating facts about the new games, there’s plenty
to uplift and inspire here.

Lausanne punches way above her weight when it comes to galleries
and museums. Wander through the city, ascending towards the railway
station, where you’ll find the new creative district Plateforme 10
home to the Musée
cantonal des Beaux-Arts
, one of Switzerland’s oldest art
collections, among other art institutions. If culture makes you
thirsty, head for Brasserie du Château, a much-loved local brewery and
bar that also serves up perfect pizzas. You’re now close to
Lausanne’s spectacular gothic cathedral – and in such a steeply elevated
town, proximity matters – so pop in to admire the 13th-century
stained glass South Rose window. Next, head for Place de la Palud
and continue your stroll in the old town. The largely car-free
district is packed with medieval alleyways lined with independent
shops, bars and cafés, all of which gaze across Lake Geneva to the
magnificent vista of the Savoy Alps.

Round off your day at one of the city’s most exciting
restaurants, Brasserie de Montbenon, where innovative young chefs
prepare dishes made with locally sourced produce. Perhaps catch an
arthouse movie in the adjacent cinema, or just get an early night
back at your chateau.

Day two

Start your second day in Lausanne with a restorative bike ride
through the forest of Sauvabelin, or at lovely Milan Park, where you’ll find Lausanne University
botanical gardens, along with a panoramic terrace on which to relax
over a coffee or hot chocolate. Lausanne has been voted the best
small city in the world, but it’s also one of Europe’s greenest,
and natural beauty is easy to access. Love wine? Jump on the train
and make the 10-minute journey to Grandvaux to explore the
Unesco-stamped wine region of Lavaux. An idyllic afternoon here
entails visiting tasting rooms and vineyards, followed by a meal on
the spectacular terrace of Auberge
de la Gare

The good life comes easy in Lausanne, where it’s dazzlingly easy
to combine a morning of nature and bucolic beauty with an afternoon
of culture and urbane delights. Having had your fix of the great
outdoors, catch the train back to the city centre and make tracks
to the Flon district – a regenerated valley now brimming with
contemporary design stores, vintage boutiques and destination
restaurants and bars. One of the liveliest parts of town, it’s
populated by students from the university, along with the creative
graduates who couldn’t bear to leave the city.

When you get hungry, head up towards the cathedral for dinner
and drinks at Sardine, a delightful bistro with a vast gin menu. Be
sure to sample at least a couple by Turicum, Switzerland’s most
popular gin, which is distilled in Zurich.

On your way down towards the lake, pop into the charming
Café de
, a popular, bohemian hangout where natural wines are
served among bookshelves and battered old sofas.

Day three

If you’re lucky enough to be in Lausanne on a Wednesday or
Saturday, make a beeline for the pedestrianised streets of the old
town, which are taken over by a charming farmers’ market on these days. Browse the many stalls to
pick up cheeses, fresh produce, baked goods and other picnic
staples. If the previous days’ exertions have tired you out, jump
on Switzerland’s only metro, which will haul you up the mountain to
the old town. (Lausanne’s hotels issue guests with free travel
passes on arrival, so there’s no need to worry about buying a
ticket.) Take a moment to admire the storied streets – and the spot
where long-time Lausanne resident David Bowie married Somali
supermodel Iman Abdulmajid in 1992 – then round off your stay with
a coffee at the lakefront Hotel Angleterre, where the poet Lord
Byron stayed in 1816. If Lausanne charmed Byron, Bowie and Chanel,
we’re pretty sure it will also charm you.

The Lowdown

Start planning your city break to Lausanne at myswitzerland.com

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