Lausanne, with its magnificent Alpine backdrop, hugs the shores of Lake Geneva and gazes across the sparkling waters at French city Les Evians les Bains. Capital of the canton Vaud, Lausanne is located in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, with French, German and Italian, respectively, the most widely spoken languages.
Roughly 40% of the population comprises foreign nationals, lending a particularly international flavor to the city. Headquarters to the International Olympic Committee (hence French being the official language of the Olympics), the city is also famed for its universities and research institutes, such as its École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne and HEC Lausanne (Faculty of Business and Economics of the University of Lausanne), which ranked 12th in the Financial Times’ 2012 MBA rankings.
Famed for fondu, fresh water perch, and regional chef Philippe Rochat's restaurant l'Hotel de Ville, eating out in Lausanne is always gratifying. Ensconced between two extensive wine-growing regions, the local restaurants often boast impressive wine lists.
Singles and couples would likely opt for the thriving center of Lausanne, while families may prefer the calmer residential areas of Pully and Lutry, both of which are close to the lake and its many recreational activities, and which have good transport connections and bilingual schools.
City living is never dull here. Lausanne boasts a diverse and rich cultural calendar: its musical and performing arts scene includes the Béjart Ballet, the Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne, the Ensemble Vocal de Lausanne and the Prix de Lausanne, a famous, week-long international dance competition.
Every July, Lausanne’s residents revel in the "Festival de la Cité", held in the old part of town, while underground film and music festivals make for an exciting and enriching city experience.
Served by extensive local, national and international passenger trains and a fantastic commuter rail, metro and bus system, Lausanne is an easy city to move in and around.
What is special or unique about your city?
Lausanne's location could not possibly be more picturesque. Built upon three hills and abutting beautiful Lake Geneva, the Olympic capital exists in clear view of the Alps; in addition to this great natural beauty, the area also features many charming vineyards.
Lausanne's medieval town center is full of small alleys packed with boutiques, cafes and restaurants. Additionally, Lausanne is truly home to the Olympic Games, hosting both the Olympic committee and the Olympic museum. The city has a very well-developed cultural menu—the number of festivals going on at any given time is truly staggering!
What are a newcomer's first impressions of your city?
Almost without fail, the first thing newcomers say about Lausanne is: "Oh, look at this view!" People are at first impressed by the city's beauty, and then they grow to be impressed by its intense and eclectic cultural scene. The music scene, in particular, is very popular.
Are these impressions likely to change?
Practically never! In fact, there are plenty of people so enamored with living in Lausanne that they gladly make long commutes to work in other towns.
What is the local language?
French is the official language.
How easily could I live in this city without knowing this language?
Very easily. As Lausanne has a lot of international companies, you will encounter people who speak English as well as most other European languages.
What are good things to remember in order to avoid offending the other residents of this city?
When you talk about the lake, never call it the lake of Geneva; the proper local term is "lac Léman."
How might the local weather affect my daily life?
Lausanne has a mild climate, with average temperatures ranging between 57 degrees and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. There is snowfall in the winter, but it is generally very pleasant.
Is there anything else I should know about the overall character of your city or its people?
Lausanne is a very secure, safe town. It is also the smallest of Switzerland's major towns. It is easy to reach from anywhere in Switzerland: by road (the A1/E25 and A9/E27 motorways), by rail (both the Swiss Federal Railway network and the French TGV Paris-Milan line), by air (just 40 miles from Geneva-Cointrin International Airport) and even by water via the Compagnie Générale de Navigation ferries that ply Lake Geneva. Lausanne is also close to many popular excursion destinations, such as Montreux and Chillon Castle, Zermatt and the Matterhorn, the Jungfrau and Lucerne, the historical hamlet of Gruyères, the Les Diablerets glacier and the Vaud Alps.