Lausanne, Switzerland

The weekend of May 12th, 2018 we took a side trip from Dijon to the French-speaking city of Lausanne, Switzerland. The two-hour train ride took us by villages, farms, meadows, and bright yellow canola fields in bloom. Since the scenery was so beautiful, if the trip had included only this train ride, I believe I would have been satisfied. Here are a few pictures of the journey taken from the train window:

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However, this side trip was much more than just a train ride. In Lausanne, I gained an appreciation for Switzerland, with its hearty potato-based delicacies, wine, dramatic topography, and architecture. More importantly, I now have a better understanding of its neutrality and commitment to fostering peace, particularly through the lens of its central role in the Olympic movement (Lausanne is home to the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee).

 

Strolling Around Town

During our two days in Lausanne (pronounced, roughly, “LOW-ZAN“), we walked its steep streets and enjoyed the waterfront area of Ouchy (pronounced, roughly, “OO-SHE”).

The hills are extremely steep. The city is built onto a hillside rising from the shores of Lac Léman (a.k.a., “Lake Geneva”). We even saw signs explaining how to park your vehicle in such a way that avoids catastrophe. Thankfully, we had no car—just our feet to move us uuuuup . . . and doooowwwn. . . .

This is by no means a complaint. This topography means fantastic exercise and even better views.

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This is Hotel AlaGare where we stayed. In French, gare means “train station.” This hotel was convenient to the station (and all the sites) and had a charming train theme. It even had a clear plastic floor in the breakfast room with a model train set underneath (complete with model trees, buildings, etc.)! A nice little place to stay.
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Our hikes up steep streets were met with the reward of sweeping views of the city (like this one).
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Here is a view looking up, instead.
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This is a picture in the waterfront area of Ouchy.
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This is Lac Léman / Lake Geneva with a marble sculpture in the foreground (Kesserling, Vicenzo. Vierge du Lac. Lac Léman, Switzerland: 1989.)
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Ouchy is a popular recreation area. The weather was perfect while we there, so there were many people out in watercraft ranging from yachts to pedal boats.
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Towering over Lausanne is the Notre Dame Cathedral of Lausanne. This cathedral was raised in the 12th and 13th centuries and was consecrated by Pope Gregory X in 1275. 
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A closer shot of Notre Dame Cathedral of Lausanne
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Interior of Notre Dame Cathedral of Lausanne
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Interior of Notre Dame Cathedral of Lausanne
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Inside of the front door of Notre Dame Cathedral of Lausanne
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They may not have had the grandeur of the stained glass windows of the cathedral, but I was taken with fountains like these scattered all around town. Many of them had dates, like this one from 1728. I was curious, so I did a bit of research. This is what I found on the Lausanne city webpage: “At each fountain, a different story is told. The story of the street or community. Stop, listen to the burbling water and… taste it. The routes are dotted with small moments of pleasure. The water for these fountains is provided by the city’s water-supply system, which guarantees that it is drinkable and strictly monitored.”

 

Tour of Lac Léman / Lake Geneva

Walking down to the waterfront from our hotel, the first time we saw a view of the lake, we were awed. We made it a priority to get on the water. We booked a three-hour cruise of the northeastern coast of Lac Léman / Lake Geneva that started in Lausanne, made a u-turn at Chillon Castle in Vaytoux, and returned back to Lausanne.

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Swiss flag flying from our boat with the Alps and terraced vineyards of Lavaux in the background. The vineyards stretch for about 30 km and are a registered UNESCO world heritage site. The terraces date back to the 11th century. The land still produces fine wine; I had the privilege of enjoying a glass at dinner.
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Part of the lake is in France, and part of it is in Switzerland (hence, the two names). The flags flown on both ends of boats recognizes this.
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The lake is dotted with many charming villages and towns, like this one.

Here are more views of villages and towns from the boat, as well as views of the terraced vineyards of Lavaux.

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And here are views of Chillon Castle, our turnaround point. The oldest parts of the castle date back to Roman times.

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Last, but not least, are views of the Swiss and French Alps from the boat.

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International Olympic Committee Headquarters

“Olympism is a destroyer of dividing walls. It calls for air and light for all.” —Pierre de Coubertin

Pierre de Coubertin of France is the person responsible for reigniting the Olympic movement in the 1800s. Although the International Olympic Committee (IOC) headquarters used to be in France, Coubertin moved them to Lausanne in 1915.

We were fortunate to see the outside of IOC headquarters and visit the expansive Olympic Museum.

 

 

 

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Sculpture outside of the entrance to the grounds of IOC headquarters and the Olympic Museum. Lac Léman / Lake Geneva and the Alps are in the background.

 

 

 

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Fountain at the entrance to the grounds of IOC headquarters and the Olympic Museum

 

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IOC Headquarters with sculpture in the foreground. The grounds have several sculptures recognizing Olympic events.
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Doorway to the Olympic Museum

 

 

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This is the “start line” of the museum which takes you through the history of the Olympics in Ancient Greece all the way through the Olympics of today. Not only did we learn history, but we also saw Olympic artifacts, many of which made me catch my breath. Some examples: costumes worn by Torvill and Dean during an Olympic-winning performance, the uniform Kerri Strug wore during her fateful fall . . . and Jesse Owen’s shoes worn in Berlin in 1936—in front of Adolf Hitler.

Lausanne was one of our favorite stops on this trip so far. It truly is a hidden gem of Europe.

 

 

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