• 146,000 inhabitants
  • 25,000 students from 125 different countries
  • 555 metre ascent from the shores of Lake Geneva to the Chalet à Gobet in the hauts de Lausanne district of the city
  • 11 km of shoreline along Lake Geneva
  • 33 hectares of vines
  • 360 hectares of parks and public gardens
  • 60 km of cycle tracks
  • 40 international sports federations have chosen Lausanne for their headquarters
  • 1994: Lausanne is named the Olympic Capital
  • Lausanne is only a 50 minute train ride from Geneva airport
  • From Lausanne to Glacier 3000 takes only 1 hour and 48 minutes by train
  • Number 1: Monocle has named Lausanne the best small town in the world


The revolution

The 19th century

The first half of the 20th century

The French Revolution of 1789 encouraged representatives of the local bourgeoisie to demand Vaudois emancipation. In 1791, banquets organised to salute the events of the revolution provoked a response from the Bernese powers. In 1797, the people of Lausanne welcomed Bonaparte with jubilation and the “petitioners” became emboldened in their calls for independence. A supervisory committee assembled the deputies of the towns and communities in Pays de Vaud. This was followed by the proclamation of 24 January 1798 which, in creating the short-lived Lemanic Republic, sounded the death knell for the Ancien Régime. The French Republic did not spare Lausanne for long: it was compelled by the army to put up around 9,000 men and the population was taxed in the form of forced loans. In the summer of 1802, the departure of French troops left the way clear for a confrontation between representatives of the central power and supporters of federalism. The announcement of mediation by Bonaparte, on 4 October, put an end to the conflict. The canton of Vaud was the result of this new intervention by the French in the destiny of Switzerland. In 1803, the Act of Mediation wanted by Bonaparte established federalism in Switzerland. Executive power in Lausanne, the main town in the canton, was conferred on a municipal authority with nineteen members who administered four sections: the police, the poor, the forests and the economy. The year 1815 saw the creation of the municipal council, a new municipal legislature elected by a system of censitary suffrage.

From 1803 to 1882, the town was governed by conservatives and liberals. With no development plan before the final third of the 19th century, with its undulating contours Lausanne changed its appearance bit by bit as its population ballooned to 20,000 inhabitants around 1860. Symbolic buildings were built: the hall of the Grand Council, a municipal theatre, a cantonal hospice, the Maison des Aliénés and, as a grand gesture, the Federal Supreme Court, an enduring institution inscribed in the Swiss Constitution of 1874. In 1835, the engineer Adrien Pichard started to tackle the issue of planning urban change. He came up with the idea of a crossing, unheard of in Switzerland, anticipating the construction of a ring road on works of art, the Grand Pont and the Tunnel de la Barre. As a sign of the times, it was no longer a matter of encircling the city to defend it but of opening the town up to commercial traffic. The Flon, a river that cuts through the town, was covered to provide more room for economic development. These changes were accompanied by rising numbers of immigrants, particularly Italians. At the end of the 19th century, as it destroyed urban traces of its medieval past, Lausanne became known for its services, administrative bodies, schools, boarding schools and holiday resorts.

The urban development of Lausanne was dramatic from the start of the 20th century. The vines retreated, the roads expanded to take more motor vehicles and Switzerland’s first skyscraper was built in Bel Air (1931). Tourism gave birth to palaces in town and by the lake and Lausanne lived up to its vocation as a place of learning with its university, its institute of technology and its hotel school. Although Lausanne was on the periphery of the Great War, it still experienced the economic decline that hit neighbouring countries during the interwar period. Evidence of this was the election of a municipal authority with a socialist majority, which obtained suffrage for voters for the legislature from 1934 to 1937. The bourgeois coalition subsequently regained power, while the context of the Second World War brought a ban on communists and the Swiss Socialist Federation.


highlights of Lausanne

Whether by bus or by bike or on foot, discover Lausanne, Olympic Capital: museum visits, a stroll in the parks and gardens or along the floral quays, excursions on the lake or in the vineyards, sporting, and cultural activities, a relaxing spa break, shopping and nights out. So let’s get exploring Lausanne and make sure you don’t miss anything!

  1. Lausanne Cathedral
  2. The Olympic Museum
  3. UNESCO-listed Lavaux vineyard terraces
  4. Collection de l’art Brut
  5. Lake Geneva
  6. Flon, the heart of Lausanne
LT/Urs Achermann
LT/Urs Achermann
LT/Laurent Kaczor
LT/Laurent Kaczor

Additional information

Geography dynamic expansion
Situated on the northern shores of Lake Geneva, Lausanne has more than 130,000 residents and is at the heart of a conurbation with over 300,000 inhabitants. A cosmopolitan and dynamic city, it offers its residents a quality of life that enjoys the same global acclaim as its vocational colleges, the international corporations to which it is home, and its cultural institutions. As the Olympic Capital, Lausanne is home to the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the seat of numerous international sport federations. It is the fifth-largest city in Switzerland and the capital of the Canton of Vaud.

A city on a human scale
Built on three hills – Cité, Bourg and Saint-Laurent – Lausanne is home to 20% of the population of the canton of Vaud. Extending from the countryside to the north, as far as the shores of the lake to the south, the town is made up of about ten districts. Whereas traditional old buildings and fine manor houses can be found in the east, the west presents a more recent, heterogeneous and heavily populated picture.

Lausanne, green city
A green city and a good place to live, Lausanne offers its residents and visitors magnificent parks and gardens, popular places to meet up and relax. Easily accessible by rail and road, the Olympic Capital has just launched the first metro in Switzerland, truly an urban elevator and the catalyst for new land-use dynamics within the centre of town and the greater metropolitan area.

Physical geography
An undulating topography
Lausanne is situated at 46°32 latitude north and at 06°38 longitude east on the northern shore of Lake Geneva. It has a steeply sloping relief ranging from 370m by the lake to 870m in the deciduous and pine forest of Jorat. It rests on the molasse characteristic of the Swiss plateau and on moraines deposited by alpine glaciation.

A temperate climate
Rainfall is evenly distributed throughout the year. Average temperatures are between 3°C and 20°C, while extremes can touch -10°C and +37°C. The winds in the region are the “bise”, which blows from the north-east bringing cold air from high pressure systems in Siberia, the “foehn”, a warm wind from the alpine valleys, and the south-westerlies, which transport temperate, humid and sometimes stormy air masses from the Atlantic.

First a hub for people and goods and an affluent city on the shores of Lake Geneva with an excellent medical reputation, Lausanne has experienced massive growth to become a city with a population of 300'000 and 170'000 jobs.