I have had the privilege to live and work in lovely Lausanne for almost 3 years between 2005 and 2008, and I can vouch that Lausanne is one of the most picturesque cities not just in Switzerland but in all of Europe.
Scenic Lausanne is situated in the Lake Geneva region and is the second biggest city in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. Lausanne is also the capital of the vast and prosperous Swiss canton Vaud. The city is built on several hills (Lausanne Central) with vineyard-covered slopes in its northern part (Lausanne Nord), and Lake Geneva in its southern part (Lausanne Sud).
When you take a leisurely summer stroll in Lausanne Sud along the lake in the pretty waterfront area of Ouchy, you will pass a multitude of dainty yachts and might happen to look further and notice the spectacular French Alps rising impressively from the opposing French lakeshore. If you continue the stroll, it will lead to grand palace hotels like the Beau-Rivage Palace and the Hotel de l’Angleterre. Hotel de l’Angletterre’s plaque boasts that Lord Byron stayed there, while the hotel manager, who might come out to greet guests during dinner, contends that historians believe that Vladimir Nabokov first envisioned the plot for Lolita while staying at Angleterre.
Interestingly, the name of the Lake seems to be a point of contention throughout Switzerland and neighboring countries. Although we, Americans, call it Lake Geneva, natives of Lausanne would vehemently disagree; in Lausanne, the lake is called Leman Lake or Lac Leman, though Lausanne and Geneva are a 40-minute train or car ride apart.
In keeping with the theme of this gorgeous lake with many names, a short half-hour ferry ride from Lausanne is Evian, France. You want to guess the name of the lake in Evian? Why, Lac Evian or Evian Lake, of course. And yes, they do serve free Evian water in restaurants there.
It is worth mentioning that Lausanne Sud is also home to a famous Olympic museum and park, whereas the International Olympic Committee has been based in the city since 1914. Lausanne Central or the old town is built around a striking Gothic cathedral, with other museums, galleries, and malls located on the shopping streets surrounding the cathedral. Lausanne Nord, full of medieval small alleys and wine caves, offers tourists breathtaking views of the lake, the vineyards and the Alps from the myriad of it cafés and restaurants, including the grand hotel Kempinski Mirador at Mont Pelerin.
Lausanne offers exquisite French cuisine with heavenly foie gras, as well as local cuisine with traditional cheese fondue and steak tartar. Gourmets should visit Hôtel de Ville and its head chef, Philippe Rochat, for a true Michelin experience.
If you are lucky enough to be planning a trip to Lausanne, city hotels offer a wide verity of Lausanne hotels at very reasonable rates.