Visiting Lausanne Switzerland With a Small Dog
You are going to hear/read this a lot Dear Reader. The best way to see Switzerland (and pretty much any European town really) is on foot. Yes … walking.
Lausanne is no different. But the streets of this medium sized town are a bit steep, so if that is a problem then, consider taking the Metro (M2). Heck take it anyway since it holds the distinction of being the shortest metro in the world. There are also a number of sites very close to the train station, so if you happen to be short on time that is always a bonus.
We had a full morning on our hands and so … off we went. First we went Downwards. Away from Lausanne’s core, through the Sous Gare (Aptly named as it it – literally “sous” as in bellow – the train station) which boasts Lausanne’s BEST cafes and then further down yet to Ouchy.
Sous Gare In the 19th century Lausanne expanded to fill all of the land between the current location of the Main Station and the port of Ouchy. This area has mostly apartment buildings and houses, but it’s worth a walk through, if only for the Café de Grancy and the park on the Crêt de Montriond.
Ouchy has always been a favorite. And because it isn’t the actual town it is often overlooked. But it is just so pretty there.
Once a fishing Village, Ouchy was incorporated into the City of Lausanne in the mid-19th century to serve as a port on Lac Léman. The incredible views of the lake and the Alps, and the cooler air in summer have make Ouchy a popular place especially in the summer months. Mom knows, she often hung out there when she lived in the region.
As a result of this summer getaway vibe, there’s a major cluster of hotels and restaurants around the port.
Some famous and seriously fancy pants. In the summer you can also rent a small boat or pedalo and go out into the lac. If you have the weather and the time for it… do it!
Once we had wondered about, our legs were a bit tired and we knew we still had a LOT of walking to get done. So, following Mom as our guide we went to catch the M2 (metro) back all the way to the tip top of town. Canines in a bag ride for free. Larger dogs pay a half human ticket price.
We got off at la Cité stop. And WOW the view from the bridge that connects to the metro. Just … wow. (either take the elevator up, or just take the stairs.)
This hill is the part of Lausanne’s old town which goes back the furthest. Of course that means that it is what holds the most interest in many ways. Thanks to the hills that make it hard to pave over, Lausanne’s old town is larger than most found in Swiss cities, with the notable exception of Zurich. You can spend days wandering the old cobbled streets and still not know all of its nooks and crannies.
You will find the Cathedral. The view from the top of the Cathedral tower is well worth the climb. Ask the nun at the souvenir shop in the Cathedral. From 10PM until 2 in the morning, a watch man shouts the hours, perpetuating a tradition that dates back to 1405. But what is most amazing is that many of the statues over the main (side) entrance still have the pigmentation of the bright and very bold colours that they were painted in. We tend to forget that statues were painted. This reminder is fascinating.
I was snuck in, inside the sling bag. No one seemed to care one bit.
The château Saint-Maire buolt in 1937 by the Bishops of Lausanne to act as fortified residence is worth at the least a walk around. If nothing else to say hello to Abraham Davel. A local hero and tragic figure.
The MUDAC is tough to miss. With all the artsy types lounging about. It is a pretty building with its super pointy rooftop. Then, down again we went back towards the train station through Ville Marché. The medieval city of Lausanne grew thanks to outdoor markets arranged around several entrances to the old city. Of note, if you have time to wonder the tiny cobble stone streets make sure you stop at these two spots in particular:
Place de la Palud with its pretty statue of justice above the fountain and animated clock.
And Place de la Riponne has been around since 1811 in some form. It grew after another market was considered too small and it was all moved to this new location. Sadly much of the original charm was lost in the 1900’s when a new parking lot was built, the bus and tramway system put in place and so on.
But the new fountain, outdoor market (Wednesdays and Saturdays) and the Palais de Rumine with its Florentine Renaissance façade still make it a picturesque spot. And best of all? It is now a place for food trucks – making it a rare spot for affordable food! We saw everything from Thai, to Swiss Raclette to chocolate crepes!
Sadly, that was all we had time for that day and we had to hop back on the train and onwards towards Montreux. Should we return I would like to add a visit to the Olympic Museum to my wonderings of the Quai d’Ouchy. It houses permanent and temporary exhibits relating to sport and the Olympic movement. Who am I kidding, I would love to go back just … because I liked it there and there is still much to see.
In review: Lausanne was once an intellectual capital, attracting such great thinkers as Rousseau and Voltaire. Today it is a haven for lovers of water skiing, swimming and sailing. The International Olympic Committee even has its headquarters here. The town’s history is evident in its medieval cathedral, the museums of the Palais de Rumine, Ouchy, and the port where Lord Byron wrote “The Prisoner of Chillon” after his visit to Montreux (more on that coming up!) and the Treaty of Lausanne was ratified. For great views, hike up to the Signal de Sauvabelin. Pet friendly and definitely worth the stop!