Lausanne City Tour

You will find the information for the Lausanne City Tour here.

Flon – Place de l’Europe

Meet at 17:45 at Place de l’Europe in front of “Les Arches” under the bridge.

Welcome to this Tour of the center of Lausanne. It should take less than two hours and we will walk about 2.5 km, up and down, as Lausanne is built on hills. 10 stops are planned with descriptions on these web pages. We should be back here at 19:00 to return to EPFL.

Any question, please ask Michel Bron.

Place Bel Air – Roof top of FNAC

A bit of geography

Lausanne is built on a slope toward the lake. On this slope, two rivers, Le Flon and La Louve formed a hill where the old city was built for protection from Germanic invasions during the 4th century.

The valley in front of us was formed by Le Flon river. Where it reaches the lake, next to Jeunotel, the Roman established a harbour called Lousonna, on the year 15 BC. It was the hub for transports from Italy to the north.

Le Flon river was used for mills but was also a sewer for the town. In the first half of the 19th century, after a cholera epidemy, the river is covered, and the bridge is built to connect the two hills. It has two rows of arches down to the valley 25 meters below.

In the second half of the 19th century, the valley is filled to the current level. On this platform, warehouses are built. A cable car connects to the train station through a tunnel and further to Ouchy on the lake side. Goods carried by train or boat were brought on train wagons up to here.

Since the begin of the 21st century, this area became a center of mixed activities, with offices, art galleries, restaurants, cinema, and night clubs.

Grand Pont – Facing the cathedral.

A few words about the history of Lausanne

The year 1032 sees the formation of small bishop state, from here to Vevey, including the Unesco Lavaux vineyard. The duke of Savoy controls the canton Vaud.

The cathedral inaugurated in 1275 by the pope Grégoire X and the emperor Rodolphe is major destination for pilgrims on the via Francigena. It sees 70’000 pilgrims with a population of 7’000.

Begin of the 16th century, the bourgeois of Lausanne make an alliance with Bern to protect their rights against the duke of Savoy and the bishop. In 1536, Bern helps the protestant city of Geneva from the surrounding Savoy. On the way back they chase the bishop and take possession of canton Vaud. Bern creates the academia to train protestant pastors in 1537. It later became the UNIL, University of Lausanne.

In 1798, the population of canton Vaud fights the Bernese with the help of French revolutionaries, and Napoleon Bonaparte. The Act of Mediation issued by Napoleon Bonaparte, on 19 February 1803 creates the Swiss Confederation.

Today’s Swiss federal state was created by the constitution of 12 September 1848, 175 years ago.

Saint François – Rue de Bourg

During the 19th and 20th century, place Saint François becomes the center of the city. Banks and shops are established. The church built 750 years ago is surrounded: tramways and trolleybuses take the space on the south, while cars circulate and parc on this side.

The opening of the Simplon tunnel in 1906, develops tourism along the lake, with the passage of the Orient-Express.

In 1915, Pierre de Coubertin establishes the Olympic Committee in Lausanne.

The treaty of Lausanne of 1923 defines the border of Turkey, triggers massive movement of Greek and Turk population, and does not consider the Kurd and Armenian people.

The large mansions amidst fields and vineyard built on the slopes between the city and the lake, are replaced by new constructions and avenues. The population grows to 100’000.

Lausanne is a quiet city, where the countryside agriculture is present in town during the Wednesday and Saturday market. Wealthy retired people come for retirement.

Pont Bessière

The Pont Bessière, built in 1910, over Le Flon connects the hill of the city to the northeast in direction of Fribourg, Bern or Vevey, Montreux.

On that side, a school of medicine and the hospital were built. It is now an important University Hospital. UNIL and EPFL projects are conducted there. An important cancer research institute is located there as well.

Esplanade de la Cathédrale

Lausanne today is the 4th largest town in Switzerland, after Zurich, Geneva and Basel, with a population of 140’000 habitants. 440’000 people live in the agglomeration, with a very wide diversity of origins.

The UNIL (Université de Lausanne) counts 19’000 students and professors, while EPFL has about 11’000 persons. Lausanne is also the home of world renowned EHL (Ecole Hotelière de Lausanne) hospitality school and of the ECAL art and design school. In addition, there are a few expensive private schools for teenagers.

The presence of the IOC (International Olympic Committee) in Lausanne attracted the headquarters of about 40 sports federations, such as volleyball, baseball, gymnastics, athletics, rowing, table tennis fencing, archery, etc. The Court of Arbitration for Sport (TAS) is also here.

With the headquarter of Nestle in Vevey nearby, Lausanne plays an important role for coffee trading worldwide. Philp Morris headquarter is significant. Their effort to move from cigarettes to IQOS heated tobacco should be noted. Bobst, in the vicinity of Lausanne, builts machine for packaging, while SICPA is producing specials inks for bank notes and other security documents. Finally, Logitech headquarter is part of the EPFL Innovation Park.

Inside the cathedral

The gothic cathedral was built between 1170 and 1235 approximately. It shows the transition from romanic to gothic style.

The Protestant Reformation significantly affected the cathedral. Many precious decorations were removed or destroyed. Other major restorations occurred later in the 18th and 19th century which were directed by Eugène Viollet-le-Duc.

Please note the painted portal on the south of the nave, made around 1220 – 1230, and the south rose window with original 13th century glasses.

Place de la Palud – Hotel de Ville

The fountain dates from the 16th century, but what we see is a recent copy.

The Town hall dates from the 17th century.

The city council and government have a clear socialist and green majority, while the canton Vaud is more on the center right. The social approach to drug consumers and beggars is privileged. Cocaine drug dealers can be seen in the center in the evening.

Flon, place de l’Europe – End of the tour.

The place de l’Europe is now the transport hub, for Lausanne.

  • M1 to UNIL and EPFL
  • M2 to the lake or the hospital on the northeast
  • LEB regional train to the northwest countryside
  • Tramway T1 under construction to the west
  • Future M3 northwest toward the stadiums

Hope you enjoyed this tour. Thank you.