What do Coco Chanel, Charlie Chaplin and David Bowie have in common? They all resided in the charming city of Lausanne in Switzerland at one point. After even just a short visit there, I can see why. The city swept me away with it’s stunning lake views, romantic sentiment and of course, a never-ending stream of incredible food.
Catching an early morning flight, we were strolling around the city by midday. With it being so easily accessible and with so much to discover, it really is an ideal mini break destination.
If we have two expectations from the Swiss when it comes to food, I don’t think anyone could deny that they would be excellent chocolate and cheese. And my friends, if the thought of these leaves you salivating as you read this, you are in for a big treat when you visit Lausanne. Ok, it may not be the optimal diet for your waistline but when you’re here I’d wholly recommend fully immersing yourself in the food culture as it’s such a big part of the city.
First stop was a chocolate making workshop in the outstanding chocolatier Durig. They have two branches in Lausanne which are fully worth hunting out if you plan to buy any chocolate during your stay. The workshop was great fun and we got a real insight into why the Swiss are regarded as some of the best chocolatiers in the world. Pouring rich milk chocolate into cute animal moulds, we were taken through the process from start to finish before going on to create some dreamy passionfruit caramels. We definitely overindulged in the shop, tasting caramels, pralines, milk and dark chocolates before strolling back to our hotel for a quick sugar nap before the evening meal.
Our home for the weekend was the gorgeous Hotel Royal Savoy, which was so indulgently luxurious, I never wanted to leave. Recently renovated, this palace-like building contains 196 comfortable rooms, with beds cloaked in cloud-like duvets, plush sofas, flat-screen TVs and high-spec bathrooms. A visit to the spa at the Royal-Savoy should also be compulsory – their swimming pool is split into an indoor and outdoor section, with guests able to swim from one side to the other. There is also a sauna, steam room, Jacuzzis, hot spas and an amazing relaxation room with blanketed water beds for some truly relaxing down time. The visit to the hotel could be a holiday on its own, with so much there, it leaves little desire to go out into the city.
Visiting Pinte Besson, the oldest restaurant in Lausanne, on the Friday evening, we tucked in to two big pots of fondue; one traditional, and the other filled with brandy and morels. We were shown how to get the optimal cheese to bread ratio and then we were free to dunk and enjoy. The restaurant was beautifully quaint, with low ceilings, exposed brick, wood panels and a winding rickety stairwell leading up to the second floor. With the October chill setting in outside, it was the perfect, cozy spot to enjoy a Swiss autumnal dinner.
Saturday morning was market day in Lausanne where we really got to see the city in full swing. I felt like a had stepped into a French art-house film, wandering round from stall to stall, sampling chunks of gruyere cheese, nutty nougat slivers, fresh fruits and rustic sourdough loaves. Everywhere we looked, vibrant, delicious-looking food jumped out at us. The abundance and variety of fresh produce was astounding. Laden with cheeses and chocolates to take home, we set off on our next adventure where the pace slowed a little.
Jumping on the very efficient Swiss metro system, we travelled out to one of the area’s vineyards, where we were to enjoy a selection of local wines and an incredible spread of pastries and chacuterie. Set up on a hill we had stunning views of the vineyard below and Lake Geneva in the distance. After the hustle and bustle of the city-centre market, it was the perfect tranquil spot from which to enjoy a relaxed lunch and soak up the scenery of rolling hills against the mountainous backdrop. The wines were also exceptional; I will definitely be looking out for Swiss wine in the future.
From there we jumped on a boat to cruise back to the city centre and again we were treated to picturesque views of the lake, mountains and the city in the distance. Cruising along, with the deep blue waters beneath us and the bright-red Swiss flag proudly flying at the back of the boat, we enjoyed sitting on the deck engulfed in the crisp October air.
I was glad we managed to sneak in a quick tour of the Cathedral in the afternoon as this impressive religious building is definitely worth seeing. The organ, which was installed in the cathedral in 2003 is made up of 7,000 pipes and is one of the most expensive instruments in the world. I was only sad we didn’t get to see it in action but the cathedral does host many musical concerts so it’s worth looking out for one during your stay.
Dinner was a surprising delight at Eat Me – a restaurant of international cuisines, offering small sharing plates. So rare is it that a restaurant can tackle various cuisines and make them all authentic and delicious but this is something that Eat Me manages to pull off. As part of our sharing menu we enjoyed ceviche, Shanghai pork, beef tartare and a middle-eastern inspired aubergine dish, among others. Everything we ate tasted incredibly authentic. I would highly recommend this restaurant on a visit to Lausanne.
Our final stop on the Sunday before departing was the Olympic Museum. The only museum of its kind in the world, this was a real treat. If you like sport and the Olympics, than Lausanne is worth a visit for this museum alone. The city of Lausanne has close ties to the games with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) also hosted here. I could have spent an entire day in the museum, admiring the many outfits of the Olympians, every Olympic torch, a range of medals, inspiring video montages, some fascinating facts and lots of interactive activities.
I was sad to leave Lausanne when our time came to an end. I could have stayed there weeks eating cheese, chocolate and discovering the many special corners of the city. It’s a place that will bowl you over with it’s charm and one which is impossible to tire of. I’ll be back for sure, but in the meantime I’ll continue to enjoy little pieces of Swiss heaven in the form of those delicious caramel truffles.