Wanting to escape the big city chaos, I headed to Switzerland’s lakeside town of Lausanne for a weekend of tranquility and luxury. Taking residence at the five-star Lausanne Palace & Spa, I’m not surprised to learn their patronage extends to royalty, celebrities and politicians alike. That said, the convivial atmosphere and facilities accommodate for families and tourists. Local food lovers are lured by the culinary standard of the four restaurants within, including the one Michelin star La Table d√âdgard.
A gothic delight
The first port of call is to walk the cobbled incline toward the medieval centre of the town dominated by the Cathédrale Notre-Dame, Switzerland’s finest example of early gothic architecture. Since the cathedral’s consecration in 1275, there’s a long story to tell of pilgrimage, battle and reformation, parts of which are richly ornamented. But intriguingly what has outlasted even the Golden Virgin Mary statue to whom the cathedral was dedicated, is the humble Night Watchman.
Monsieur Renato Hausler, Night Watchman for 27 years, is the last bastion committed to upholding the tradition of surveying the town against fire since 1235. Every night he walks up 153 stairs to the top of the tower. Every hour on the hour the bell chimes from 10pm to 2am and he shouts out, “C’est le guet; il a sonné l’heure‚Äù ‚ÄìThis is the nightwatch; the hour has struck. He tells us his wife is always assured of his whereabouts.
For me the essence of Swiss savoir-vivre was experienced at the wine cellar of Domain Croix Duplex located on the UNESCO World Heritage Site of The Lavaux region. We were invited to sample the Chasselas wines on their terrace, overlooking the magnificent landscape against the backdrop of the French Alps. Madame Maude gave us a tour of the cellars while she spoke of her grand¬≠father’s labour of love, which has passed down several generations.
A little worse for wear, we crossed Lavaux on foot through the neighbouring vineyards and down toward the very quaint Lutry; a stone-paved village on the lake shore where locals picnic and roads are scarce. We took a ferry from the pier toward the town of Ouchy passing the Olympic Museum and home of the Olympic committee. The locals have a penchant for outdoor international sporting events such as the Lausanne Marathon and Althletissima. Also expect to see the odd Nordic walking enthusiast spotted across the sloping hillside.
I’m told Twilight Sailing is an experience but short on time I make a mental note for the next visit and settle for a swim with the swans in the very pristine waters of Lake Geneva.
The grand aerial view of Lausanne is nothing short of breathtaking; picturesque terracotta rooftops, vineyard covered slopes, Lake Geneva at its feet with an impressive rise of the Alps. But on foot the region affords a rich cultural calendar, pleasantly quirky history and gastronomic sophistication. It’s very difficult to feel short changed with a visit to Lausanne.
For more information on Lausanne please visit www.lausanne-tourisme.ch
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