The most famous five rings of modern times are not Greek; they are Swiss. In 1915, the chairman of the then IOC, Pierre de Coubertin, declared Lausanne to be the home of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). In 1994, the city on Lake Geneva was designated as the headquarters of the Olympic Movement. Lausanne is intertwined with sports and the Olympic Games and the IOC is very much part of the cityscape. Aside from the IOC, there are approximately another 20 international sports organisations in the city. The most known independent association to choose Lausanne as its heaquarters is the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). A complex in a seperate area of the city was built to house all the large organisations: the Maison du Sport International. This complex of sports organisations is ideally located for working closely with the IOC.

Cosmopolitan Lausanne

Lausanne, with a population of 140’000, is not really a large city; in fact, it is only the fifth largest city in the country. However, the demographics are interesting. „Bi genauerem Ahneluege“ (en: Looking more closely) at the development of the population, the doubling of the population in the last 80 years is quite astonishing in itself. More noticeable even, is the number of different nationalities and cultures. Just 57% of the city’s population is Swiss; the rest is made of different nationalities. This peaceful multi-cultural society is the basis for several „kulturelli“ (en: cultural) highlights in the town. As a visitor, this is immediately obvious when visiting one of the many festivals held in the city.

A busy location

Lausanne on Lake Geneva
Lausanne on Lake Geneva

Lake Geneva has always been „ä Magnet“ (en: a magnet) for visitors. The metropolitan area of Geneva – Lausanne is centrally located. On the one hand, this is a huge advantage, on the other hand, this leads to a large amount of traffic. All important roads run parallel to the lake and are the main arteries of the region. Where there are roads, there is life and, importantly, a thriving economy. This is true also of the biggest traffic hub of Western Switzerland, Lausanne, and therein lies the rub for residents of the city. It is hectic and patience is needed!

After Zurich and Geneva, Lausanne has the most traffic jams. It is therefore recommended to arrive „mit em Fluugzüg“ (en: by airplane) or by train. Once in the city, public transport is excellent. Another way to get around the city is „mit em Velo“ (en: by bicycle); Lausanne has well-developed cycle routes and it takes only minutes to traverse the city centre.

A sustainable future

Lausanne plans its development with an eye to the future. All decisions are made taking sustainability into consideration. The town leaders want to leave a healthy city to the following generations. There are plenty of „sportliche Möglikeite“ (en: sports possibilities) as well as cultural highlights for residents on offer. For those who seek a more quiet pastime, there are many sites on the lake that offer a contemplative atmosphere.

Body and mind aside, education plays an important role in the sustainable development of the city. The city on the banks of Lake Geneva is considered to be Switzerland’s centre of education. The most known institution is the Université de Lausanne. However, not far behind in renown, is the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne. Both schools are leading in their fields of education.

History in Lausanne

Notre Dame cathedral– Lausanne
Notre Dame cathedral– Lausanne

The city on the north bank of the lake offers not only modern „Ihrichtige“ (en: facilities), but also a lot of history. The de la Cité quarter, at the top of the steep old town, houses the most famous old building of the city: the Notre Dame cathedral. The beautiful old church is smack in the middle of the historic city centre. Slightly below the cathedral, is the former bishop’s seat of the Bernese provincial government, the  Château Saint-Maire. This huge building was designed to inspire awe in the hearts of the people during the Middle Ages.

It is immediately obvious to the visitor that Lausanne’s old town does not have an abundance of medieval buildings in the old town. The most impressive architecture stems from the Renaissance period with buildings built on the city’s hill. The aristocracy and the smart set looked „vo obe abe“ (en: down from above) to the lesser mortals living below.


Discovering the city

Lausanne skyline
Lausanne skyline

It has been made easy for a visitor to go on a discovery tour of Lausane. The tourism bureau has laid out many different routes for both the first time visitor as well as for regular guests, which allows for unlimited exploration of this beautiful city. You will always find something new to see in Lausanne.

However, the best way to get to know a city is to immerse oneself in the hustle and bustle of daily life. Even this seems simple in Lausanne. There are countless festivals, expositions or “anderi Verahstaltige“ (en: other events) in all areas of life.

Lausanne for foodies

Lausanne’s proximity to the lake guarantees fresh lake fish such as perch and char, which can be enjoyed in one of the many restaurants dotted along the shoreline of Lake Geneva. Of course, typical Swiss dishes such as Papet vaudois and fondue are as delicious in Lausanne as elsewhere in Switzerland and you cannot go amiss with drinking some of the top quality regional wine to go with your meal.

Lausanne is considered to be the Swiss Mecca for food; there are many restaurants located here who have been awarded the highest of accolades.

Parlez-vous français?

If you want to get to know Lausanne a bit better or even live here, speaking French is a must. Many of  the cosmopolitan residents of the city speak English, but speaking the local language is still the best way to fully get to know both the city and its people. Go ahead, immerse yourself in the city! Lausanne and its residents welcome you!

Even if Swiss German is not the language in Lausanne, some people do understand it. And if you are based in the German speaking part of Switzerland and just visiting Lausanne for the day, you will need it everyday.


Vocabulary list

Swiss German English
1 Bi genauerem Ahneluege Looking more closely
2 kulturelli cultural
3 ä Magnet a magnet
4 mit em Fluugzüg by airplane
5 Mit em Velo by bicycle
6 sportliche Möglikeite sports possibilities
7 Ihrichtige facilities
8 vo obe abe down from above
9 anderi Verahstaltige other events


Lausanne – the Olympia of modern times
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