DISCOVERING LAUSANNE / Romantic Switzerland

Posted by Katrina in Lausanne

In Romantic Switzerland (and Europe), Diamond Elite Models Blog is introducing you to Europe’s most romantic travel destinations. Perfect for city breaks over the weekend. To forget about all the stress everyday life brings and great ways to surprise your partner or travel companion with a lovely hustle free trip. If you have a personal favorite and would like to introduce it to all our readers, feel free to get in touch or send us an email. We would love to publish your favorite romantic weekend destination in Europe and of course mostly in Switzerland.

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Lausanne  is a city in theFrench-speaking part of Switzerland, and the capital of the canton of Vaud. The city is situated on the shores of Lake Geneva (French: Lac Léman, or simply Le Léman). It faces the French town of Évian-les-Bains, with the Jura mountains to its north-west. Lausanne is located 62 kilometres (38.5 miles) northeast of Geneva.

Lausanne is a slow burn – it takes time to get to know it, but once you do you’ll realise exactly how many things to do there are here. Packed with history and culture, Lausanne has a pretty pedestrian centre which buzzes with restaurants and markets and a number of neighbourhoods with a character all of their own, from the converted warehouses of Flon to the independent boutiques around Rue de Bourg and Rue Marterey and the stylish shops and cafés of Grancy. But best of all is Lausanne’s sporty, outdoor nature, ingrained thanks to its position next to Lake Geneva and its reputation as the ‘Olympic city’. When the city centre shuts down on Sundays, decamp to Ouchy to swim, run, paddleboard or soak up the sun in a café, head up high to bike around the leafy trails of Sauvebelin or bus it to Lutry for a stroll among the Lavaux vineyards.

Lausanne is a focus of international sport, hosting the International Olympic Committee (which recognizes the city as the “Olympic Capital” since 1994), the Court of Arbitration for Sport and some 55 international sport associations. It lies in a noted wine-growing region. The city has a28-station metro system, making it the smallest city in the world to have a rapid transit system.

The best cafés in Lausanne

Coffee culture is long ingrained in the city and you don’t have to look far for a croissant pitstop or cool cafe – Lausanne has one on practically every corner, cobbled street and pedestrian square. Enjoy people-watching from any one of numerous city centre spots (service isn’t always the best, but it’s worth it for the location and atmosphere), or head to a neighbourhood café to really get the measure of the city and its people. From the best place to stop in for a quick morning croissant, to where to find superior hot chocolate, which café to choose for a decent lunch and where to linger all afternoon with a cuppa and a board game, we run you through Lausanne’s best cafés, coffee shops and tearooms.

Our favorites:

  1. Le Kiosque Saint-François

    A pleasingly quirky café in the cobbled Place Saint-François, this tiny, stand-alone building was built in the early 20th century as a waiting room for customers using the city’s tramway. Recently and stylishly renovated, it retains that vintage, Brief Encounter feel, with wooden bench seating, a mosaic floor and the original wrought iron clock outside. Simple soups, sandwiches and salads are on offer at lunch time, with muffins, pastries and hot and cold (non-alcoholic) drinks available all day. It’s perfect for a quick breakfast or lunch on the hoof, and prices are reasonable too.
  2. La Couronne d’Or 

    You won’t stumble across this café, and so much the better for those who know about it. In a rather incongruous setting opposite a multi-story carpark, it’s a pocket of history in a concrete landscape. La Couronne d’Or has been around since the late 19th century, and the owners have tried to preserve as much of its history as possible. The result is a charming, characterful place with mismatched wooden furniture, a trinket-laden piano, low-hanging lights and a restored antique bar. Come for brunch, a coffee over the papers, evening drinks or a simple set lunch menu.

  3. Le Barbare 

    No visit to Lausanne would be complete without a hot chocolate in Le Barbare. Firstly, it’s arguably the best hot chocolate in town – pure, thick, melted loveliness and little else, unless you fancy it topped with whipped cream. Secondly, it’s a charming old place located on the city’s most scenic street, a string of tall, narrow 16th century houses adorned with coloured shutters and fading painted shop signs. Alongside is the Escaliers du Marché, a covered wooden medieval walkway that once connected the town’s two markets. If you’re foolish enough to forgo the hot chocolate, the café also does chocolate milkshakes, coffee and soft drinks, as well as omlettes and other light meals.

Best restaurants

It’s only a small place, so when it comes to finding a restaraunt, Lausanne doesn’t have as diverse a range in Switzerland’s bigger cities, but there are plenty of good places to eat here if you know where to find them. While there’s an abundance of café-restaurants serving modern Swiss bistro fare such as beef tartar, burgers, salads and perch filets, it’s also possible to hunt out decent Chinese food, an Indian curry and an Argentinian t-bone steak. Traditionalists can opt for classic Swiss cheese dishes at several dedicated places including Pinte Besson and Café Romand. And of course with Italy so close by, Lausanne is peppered with good Italian restaurants. Eating out anywhere in Switzerland isn’t a cheap affair, and Lausanne is no different. So if you’re going to blow your budget you may as well do it in style at somewhere like Le Cinq. At the other end of the scale a smattering of restaurants such as the Chinese Chez Xu offer real value for money, and most places offer a competitively-priced lunch menu which won’t put too much of a dent in your wallet.

Our favorites:

  1.  L’Eléphant Blanc: this small restaurant is a locals’ favourite.

    Tucked away in Lausanne’s medieval Cité – which you might think would be overrun with restaurants, but strangely isn’t – is this lovely little bistrot serving the food of chef Anthony Macé. Much loved by locals in the know, the intimate surrounding of the small interior make for a great place to spend a romantic dinner or catch-up lunch with friends, and there’s a well-priced dish of the day at lunch times. The limited menu focuses on regional ingredients and changes with the seasons. Quality is high and presentation beautiful. In summer there are a few tables outside on the quiet street.


  2. Anne-Sophie Pic : gourmet food in plush surroundings at the Beau Rivage Palace.

    France’s first female chef to be awarded three Michelin stars, Anne-Sophie Pic grew up in the family restaurant Maison Pic in the south of France before taking the helm herself after the death of her father. After regaining the restaurant’s three stars and becoming France’s most famous female French chef, in 2009 Pic decided to step her culinary toe out of French waters by establishing a second restaurant in Lausanne’s Beau Rivage Palace.  Drawing on the flavours and seasonal ingredients of her childhood home as well as local Swiss produce, Pic creates imaginative, beautifully presented dishes that have earned the restaurant two Michelin stars and 18 Gault Millau points.

    Among the dishes on Pic’s signature Emotions menu are wild langoustines in a broth of green apple, cinnamon leaf, anise and celery, followed by venison marinated in Oolong Rou Gui China tea, chervil with liquorice infused venison jus. Or for the ultimate dinner, the six course Pic Collection menu (at CHF350) features classic dishes honed at Maison Pic such as seabass with Aquitaine caviar.

    The food is in good company – the Beau Rivage Palace has one of the largest wine collections in Europe.