Originally from Texas, Sarah, 28, moved to Lausanne three years ago for a job in communications. She tells The Local why everyone should visit the city – just make sure you pack some good walking boots.
How would you describe Lausanne?
When I first arrived I didn’t think there was much going on here. But I soon discovered it was filled with fantastic restaurants, boutiques and creative people. It was this discovery that led me to start The Lausanne Guide with my friend Tanya Christensen.
Living in the city has been like living at a cultural crossroad. There are many multi-national companies that have their headquarters here and international universities, bringing languages and cultures from all over the world. But the heart and soul of Lausanne is very Swiss with a character and flair of its own.
Finally, the thing that I love the most is that you are always ten minutes from the most breathtaking nature. You have the city life but you can also escape to the mountains, lakes, vineyards and ski resorts.
Where should visitors go for the best views?
I would recommend climbing up the city’s highest hill to the cathedral [Notre Dame].
Lausanne is often referred to as the San Francisco of Switzerland, which is appropriate considering its location. Situated at the end of the Swiss Plateau, Lausanne plunges down into the lake and up on the hill you get a great view of Lake Geneva and the Swiss Alps. Just remember to bring some comfortable shoes!
Where’s the best place to get a cup of coffee?
My current favourite is an old bus ticket kiosk in the Place Saint-François called Le Kiosque Saint-François, which has re-opened as a café to mark its 100-year-old anniversary. It’s a romantic spot for a quick coffee, tea or hot chocolate à l’ancienne right in the heart of the city. The original clock was even brought out of the Lausanne History Museum and restored to its original home.
What’s your favourite Swiss food?
I hate to be really cliché but I love fondue. Here, we eat a fondue called “moitié-moitié” (half and half) which is made up of Vacherin and Gruyère cheese. In the summer I like to eat a type of fish called “perche” (perch) from the lake. You can watch the water where the fish comes from while you eat it.
Where can you eat the best meal?
Caffè Bellini is a brand new Italian eatery next to the cathedral. My husband and I love to share a tray of prosciutto with Sicilian wine for a "light" week-night dinner.
Are there any downsides to living in Lausanne?
It’s expensive. When visitors come they are always really shocked. If you eat out as a couple, it can often cost about 100 Swiss francs ($109) including wine.
The housing market is also extremely tight with a very low vacancy rate, meaning that newcomers often experience a heart-breaking apartment search upon arrival.
A lot of people complain that Lausanne is too quiet on Sundays (all the shops are closed). But once you get into the rhythm of the city you learn to appreciate it because it means that you are more tempted to go outside. Because of the proximity of nature, we often go for hikes on Sundays, picnics in the vineyards or skiing in nearby Verbier or Portes du Soleil.
Tell me something about Lausanne that the rest of the world doesn’t know.
Not many people know that Lausanne has been a source of inspiration for many English writers like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Percy Shelley and Lord Byron who all either lived in the centre or the immediate surroundings.
And finally, what are Swiss people really like?
The reputation of the Swiss is that they are very reserved and this is certainly true on first impression. But the great thing is that they are very faithful people, so as soon as you make contact with them they become friends for life.