Mar 02

Switzerland : Lausanne



This is a continuation from an earlier post about my Switzerland winter holiday, starting in Geneva. We didn’t stay long in Geneva and by 4 p.m we were on a train heading to Lausanne. Got to Lausanne and all we had to do was cross the street and we arrived at the apartment building in which was the apartment we were renting for the week. It was FREEEEEZING outside and the owner was late. She did give us the code to the security door but it was on R’s laptop. Spent a good 10 mins scrambling to get the laptop up and running … fingers almost falling off. We got in the building eventually and all was well. The owner finally showed up, gushing with apologies and took us up to her place. It was a lovely one bedroom with a very spacious living area. She left a few mins later and I climbed into bed. God, I was so tired. Did not sleep a wink the night before out of sheer excitement; but now that we had arrived, my entire body was shutting down.



Later that evening we were off to dinner with Kerry. Destination : Cafe & Restaurant de Cour Tai Mah. A Chinese restaurant specialising in Malaysian favourites, like Char Kwei Teow, Bee Hoon Goreng and Wanton Noodles. Slurp! The thing with dining out in Switzerland is the price tag. That dinner alone cost us a 3-digit sum. So we didn’t make dining out a habit. We basically survived on home cooked meals (when we had access to cooking facilities) and sandwiches from the local Co-op & Migros stores. Yoghurt and chocolate milk seemed to be very cheap tho, so I started my day with a bowlful of Bircher Muesli and a muffin.



Lausanne is the capital of the canton of Vaud, and is known as the “Olympic City” because the Headquarters of the International Olympic Committee is found here along the shores of Lake Geneva. The city itself was pretty quiet and not busy like Geneva. Everyone here speaks French and things felt pretty laid back. The surrounding area is very hilly and the most striking thing we noticed was that almost every inch of the hillside was covered with grape vines. It didn’t matter if the patch of ground was only as big as a bus stop ~ if there was space, there would be vines.



Did some reading and it would seem that Lausanne was once the site of a Roman camp down by the lake shore, in the 4th century A.D. Over time, after the fall of the Roman Empire, the city centre moved to higher ground where it was easier to defend, and this is where modern Lausanne stands today. The city is super old and steeped in history. Its best feature would obviously be the lake and also the cathedral that dominates the skyline.



Lausanne Cathedral.





The cathedral of Lausanne is a Catholic church, dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Amazingly this cathedral has been standing in its exact spot since its construction almost 900 years ago. It was built in 1175 and it was consecrated in 1275.  The stained glass windows inside were really something to look at too ~ just brilliant colours everywhere. So intense.








Now apparently the cathedrale today still practices the age old tradition of appointing a night-watch to call out the hours between 10 p.m – 2 a.m. The whole idea back in the day was that these night watchmen would patrol the ramparts and walls of the old city and warn the towns people if there was a fire or if they were being attacked. In present times the nightwatch still ascends the 153 steps up to the tower of the cathedral and calls out to the four directions :  C’est le guet; il a sonné l’heure (“This is the nightwatch; the hour has struck”). I wish I knew all this while I was actually still in Lausanne, then I would have hung out in the vicinity at exactly 10 p.m.









After walking around the cathedral grounds we headed off for lunch at this Asian place ~ supposedly serving Japanese cuisine. I wish I had written down the name of the place coz food was quite tasty and the prices were very reasonable. And guess what I had for lunch?

Malaysian Chicken Rice! Hah!



Pretty authentic flavour; complete with spring onion soup, fragrant rice and chilli-garlic sauce. The only non-authentic bit was the chicken coz it was crumbed and fried. But hey, when eating chicken rice, it is my belief that the flavour of the rice supersedes the chicken.





After lunch it was time to take a leisurely stroll along the shores of Lake Geneva and locate the Olympic Headquarters. It was a very long walk and it was very cold … brrr. Weather was overcast again and there was an icy breeze coming across the lake. The views were spectacular tho.





Got to the Olympic Headquarters but we were not allowed in … I dunno, some sort of important meeting was going on inside. Must be all the big-wigs going frantic as the deadline for the Olympics 2012 draws near. I seriously wouldn’t want to be in England during that time … what a nightmare walking down the street would be; hoards of people heading in the same direction as you are.  *shivers*



I’ll stay nice and comfy at home and watch the footage from the comfort of Amsterdam … or Italy since we are planning on returning to Italy for my birthday. Hopefully we can bring the dog then, coz ever since we got back from Switzerland he has been excessively clingy and he messes the garbage bin whenever we leave the house without him.



So anyway, that was day 1 out and about in Lausanne. Bought some postcards and a magnet for Mum which cost me a bomb. GAH! But Mum needs to have her magnet souvenirs. And I still have all the postcards which i bought. I really wonder why I bother sometimes.




Ouchy to Evian-les-Bains, France.

If you head down to Ouchy along the shores of Lake Geneva you can hop a ferry and cruise off to France. The ferries depart every hour or so and are run by Compagnie Générale de Navigation sur le lac Léman. The company services four French stops : Lausanne – Evian; Lausanne – Thonon; Nyon – Yvoire ; Nyon – Chens sur Léman, and they run throughout the year.

Red = Lausanne to Thonon & Evian. Green = Nyon to Yvoire and Chens sur Leman

 Fares aren’t cheap tho. A single return journey from the Ouchy pier to Evian-les-Bains will set you back CHF 34. But we had Swiss Passes so our ride was free.

Getting to Evian-les-Bains takes about 35 mins and the ride was rather enjoyable; it being winter and all which meant that there were not a lot of people on board with us. We were free to roam the ship (except in the First Class cabin) from stern to aft. If you are feeling peckish there is a kiosk on-board selling cakes, coffee and snacks.

When we got to the French side we discovered that it was icier than expected. The frost was phenomenal and it made the frontpage news. The entire pier and the boardwalk was covered in ice, inches thick. I was just worried I’d face-plant and break a limb. If we thought it was cold in Lausanne, we were FREEZING in Evian. Many locals gathered along the pier and were testing their ice walking abilities : kids, parents, dog walkers, curious tourists.

It was a Sunday when we arrived and everything was closed. The town had a sleepy feel to it and it was nice to have the cobblestone streets and alleyways to ourselves. However, it was too cold to last. R wanted a coffee and I desperately wanted to be indoors somewhere and be out of the wind. We finally found a small cafe / bakery and we huddled in. Aaahh … so nice to be warm and toastie again. And it also felt good to be back on soil that used the Euro. After a week in Switzerland everything in that little cafe appeared dirt cheap. Hot drinks and cake were ordered ~ pain au chocolat, meringue, gâteau aux framboises.

Raspberry sponge cake.

We would have liked to stay longer but it was 4 p.m and we had dinner arrangements at Kerry’s. Her boyfriend is a chef and he was cooking for us. Gosh, and what a dinner it was too! It was a 5-course dinner and everything was soooo delish!!

We started with Spinach and Celeriac Ravioli in a cream, butter and Gruyere sauce. R is not a fan of spinach and on the best of days he usually gags at the idea of voluntarily putting spinach in his mouth … but that night he ate every morsel. Hmmm … I am not sure how I feel about that now, in retrospect.


Next course was Scallops in a white wine and butter sauce, served in their shells. It was such a joy to have restaurant quality food in a home setting. This was followed by two kinds of fish served with rice. One of these fish was stuffed with mushrooms, so here is where R draws the line. But that meant more for me …. YAY!

Last of the savoury meal was chicken thigh fillet in a mustard crumb, served with garlic and parsely potatoes in a mustard sauce. I think this was my favourite of the evening. I only wish my photos did these dishes justice.

Last but not least, Kerry made dessert : a moelleux au chocolat with a vanilla bean Crème anglaise. It was brilliant!! I would have had more but I was so stuffed. The French do eat well.

It was lovely to catch up with old friends. As a gift I brought her a few things she has been missing from back home, like condensed milk. Lol. It costs CHF 3.50 for a can of condensed milk in Switzerland, and that freaked me out too. So I brought over 3 cans for Kerry all the way from Chinatown, Amsterdam which only cost me € 0.89 each. Poor girl told me recently that they are almost finished now and she wants more. I just told her to hop a plane and come visit me in Amsterdam this summer.  🙂 I will look forward to hosting her and her boyfriend to return the favour of their hospitality.

 ~ THE END ~

More entries on Switzerland :



For more articles on my travels, please visit the ‘Travel’ section.


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  1. Alpine Tour on the Glacier Express, Switzerland. » Food Flurries

    […] all the attractions along the shores of Lake Geneva, and we even had time to catch a ferry to Evian-les-Bain on the French side of the lake and took in dinner at a friend’s place in Bussigny pres […]

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