Swiss Federal Railways (I&V)
There is only one main railway station in Lausanne – Gare centrale de Lausanne – Lausanne central railway station. The huge edifice of the station was built between 1911 and 1916 along the lines of Leipzig station in Germany. It serves as an arrival and departure hub for many domestic as well as international trains.
From the Lausanne railway station there are train connections to major cities every 30 minutes, cities such as Geneva, Zurich, Bern, Neuchatel… but also "nearby" "Swiss riviera" towns Vevey and Montreux. Service of Swiss railroad company is as precise & sharp & perfect as it could be. Free booklets, very easy to "read", provide information on every arrival and departure.
We are coming from the country with pretty long tradition of railway transportation – the first traffic with steam traction in Serbia was opened in 1856, and Serbian Railways as a company is traced back to 1881 when King Milan I declared formation of the Serbian National Railways – but probably without any talent for maintaining & servicing railroad & trains & travelers – Anton Pavlovich Chekhov had even written the mocking story about his "adventures" traveling by train across Balkans. Having that in mind there is no doubt that we could easily overrate the service, but it is certain that it is very good.
Gare centrale stands between the center of the city and Ouhy. Rue du Petit-Chene leads to it from Grand-Pont, and Avenue L. Ruchonnet – from Pont Chauderon.
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M2 New underground in Lausanne
On September the 18th 2008 Lausanne inaugurated its new underground. The first Swiss metro and the world's first automated driverless system able to cope with the city's slopes.
It's a 6 km north-south line, going from Ouchy (south, by the lake) to Croisette (north).
The metro climbs slopes with an average six per cent gradient, with the steepest parts at 12 per cent - a world first and a major feat of engineering.
The opening of the new underground is a big event in Lausanne. It has been spoken about for decades, and the works have been going on for years. The inauguration party will last 4 days, but unfortunately due to technical hiccups, the line will only be properly open from October 27th.
From Ouchy to Epalinges (Croisette) the journey will take about 20 minutes. This metro will improve the mobiliy in Lausanne, and make it very easy to travel around for tourists.
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TL - Transports Lausannois
The bus network in Lausanne is pretty good (except in the winter time when it snows!!). Buses go all around Lausanne and come every 6-7 minutes during the week (daytime) and 10-15 minutes on Saturdays and evenings. Sundays, on the other hand, isn't too good, buses run only every 20 mins. approx. All buses go to St-François (downtown).
All tickets have to be bought at the bus stop and cannot be purchased on the bus. FYI, you better have the exact change, because the machines do not give back change... UPDATED : some machines DO give change back, but only in the most "touristy" bus stops! Most machines accept Euros, but the exchange rate is terrible.
There are random checks on buses to see if you have a valid ticket... Fine is CHF 60.- if you pay cash immediately or CHF 80.- ...
On the Lake in a Boat – Thing To Do! (I&V)
Compagnie Generale de Navigation sur le lac Leman offers possibility to travel by boat from one to the other spot on the shore of Geneva Lake. But it is more than just a transportation – being on the boat and "discovering" shores of the lake (both Swiss and French) is marvelous experience, and even the shortest visit to any of the cities, towns or villages on the lake would not be complete without it.
CGN web page offers downloadable time-line but also the information about the company history: "[…] Thanks to Edward Church, US consul in France and a boating enthusiast, Switzerland's first steam ship, the 'Guillaume Tell', made its appearance on Lake Geneva in 1823. CGN was formed in 1873 as a result of a merger between three navigation companies. […] This alliance highlighted the predominance that tourism was to have throughout the Lake Geneva area. Efforts continued to increase the size of the fleet, while maintaining the comfort and speed of transport. […]
Then came the Belle-Epoque, a real high point in tourism. Hotels, palaces and railways became the symbols of a period in which luxury was the order of the day. […]
After the war (WWI), the company enjoyed an increase in numbers again and new vessels were launched. In its weakened position, CGN still had to deal with the appearance and development of the automobile and the severe economic crisis that lasted through the 1930s. In 1940, CGN even suspended its services for three months.
Fortunately, there was a positive outcome. From 1943, the authorities intervened in the hope of seeing CGN's vessels plying the lake once again. The National Exhibition in 1964 provided new stimulus, and the acquisition of new and modern units followed […]".
We enjoyed late summer evening on the boat "Geneva", having a ride from Montreux to Lausanne. It was the perfect way to admire the beauty of the lake, Swiss Riviera, French Alps, Lavaux Vineyard Terraces…
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To Lausanne by train
The best and fastest way to go from any point of French Switzerland to Lausanne is the train. The price was reasonable, they depart after an hour and a half from the previous one (at least from Geneva train station), and it takes little time (from Geneva it was an hour or so). You can also reach Lausanne by TGV and the French, Italian and German trains.
To see timetables and prices, check:
German trains (if you don't know German, go to the International Guest section for the English version)
Around Lausanne by Bus
Lausanne has one of the neatest bus transportation I have ever experienced! You can go wherever you want at a cheap price, and the tour guides booklets given in the tourism office indicates you which line(s) you must take to go at any of their touristic spots, and the bus stop. Taking a bus would also let you observe the life of Lausanne and admire its charm in the streets
For the timetables and prices, see http://www.t-l.ch/, although the site is in French only :(
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There are two metro lines in Lausanne:
The first one which connects the center and Old Town (station called Flon) to Ouchy, passing through the train station.
The second one also from Flon, basically right below St Francois, to Renens, going west.
The metro is therefore not the best way to get around as it services only these areas, but if you are going to Ouchy or the University, it remains the fastest and best transportation.
The fare is 2Sfrs, approx $1.20 USD
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The bus system
The bus system in Lausanne is imho the best way to get around, other than walking of course: it serves the entire city, and it is easy to use. The lines each have a different color and are numbered, and all the stops are announced and well indicated.
The fares are as follow: 1.50 Sfrs for 30min, 2.40 for 60 min. You also have a daily pass that lasts 24hours for Sfrs 7.20.-
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The best way to get to Lausanne is by train, unless of course you rented a car. The train system in Switzerland is extremely good as in Europe, even though expensive.
For fares check the CFF website. If you will be traveling in several cities in Switzerland, the Swiss Pass or the Swiss Flexi Pass might be a good option....
For a map of the train system: http://www.rail.ch/pv/files/sts-map.pdf
The boats on the lake
The Lake of Geneva (Lac Leman) is is biggest lake in Occidental Europe with a surface of 500 km2. It borders Switzerland on the North and France on the South.
I would definitely recomment a boat ride on the lake, whether for a day trip or transportation between two cities you want to visit.
For more information on rates and cities serviced by the boats go to the official website.
We arrived and departed Lausanne by train. We travelled in from Zermatt (via Visp) which was a 3 hour journey. I particularly enjoyed the last section of the trip when the train line runs along the edge of Lake Geneva. After 2 nights in Lausanne, we caught the train to Geneva. This trip took around 40 minutes.
Train travel in Switzerland is easy. Trains are clean and run on time. Stations are well signposted and fellow travellers are considerate. The trains we travelled on all had luggage areas and toilets. It is a stress-free way to get around the country.
Being on the train is also a great way to do some sight seeing on route. Some of the rail lines travel through the most gorgeous mountain scenery. One day we travelled on the Glacier Express, on a 6 hour journey from Chur to Zermatt. The train travels through valleys, up mountains, past lakes and glaciers.
The only confusing thing connected to train travel in Switzerland is deciding what type of ticket or rail pass to buy. Sure you can buy tickets from place to place as you go, but there are various passes that may work our more economical depending on your itinerary and rail usage.
I spent some time before our trip calculating out the cost of buying various tickets versus rail passes, and in our case determined that a Swiss Pass offered the best value. The Swiss Pass is valid on almost all trains (supplement was required to use the Glacier Express), on buses, ferries, and we got 50% off the cost of cable cars and mountain transport in Zermatt.
You can investigate Rail Passes here
Train timetables and routing here
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Ferry on Lake Geneva
The most relaxing and scenic way to see the towns and villages along Lac Leman or Lake Geneva is by ferry. The boat leaves Lausanne Ochy before 9AM. It takes 3 1/3 hours to Geneva, which is only 40 minutes by train. However, the long journey by ferry takes you back in time and lets you view some of the most fantastic scenery of Switzerland and the French Alps!
how to move around
We were staying outside the city so we had to use the car to get inside. Then we mostly walked around the city center (Cité) which is actually a hill that houses most of the city’s attractions (cathedral, many museum etc Also to the attached Ville Marche district which is the old medieval part of Lausanne, we walked through its popular square, most of them were housing outdoor markets (we focused at Place Riponne but also walked to place de la Palud and place St.Francois).
From train station you can actually walk into the city, place St.Francois is 600m away, place Riponne 900m away, cathedral 1km. What you cant see on the map is that Lausanne has a lot of steep streets so using a bus or metro will be very helpful for many people. These steep hills was the reason we didn’t ask for bicycle too but there are some scenic paths around Geneva lake, if we had more time we would rent one.
There is big bus network, we noticed most of them around place St.Francois. As expected they are very reliable and frequent
There are 2 metro lines (connecting at Flon metro station). We used the M2 line to go down to port of Ouchy (once just a fishing village 2km south of Lausanne) to walk along the lake, visiting the Olympic parc etc M2 line is an automated line, strange/weird feeling to be at first wagon and see that there’s no driver there :)
Pic 3 is a map of the city centre I took from a local city guide
Pic 4 is a general map of Lausanne, you can easily see the train station in the middle, most attractions spread north of the station while port of Ouchy lies 2km to the south
Don’t forget that since 2008 every hotel in Lausanne gives you for free a metro/bus pass (pic 5) for as many days you stay there. Very convenient.
Travel across Leman
If you're in Lausanne, you might find it interesting to travel to France by boat across Leman (the lake). Or, if happened to be in Evian-les-Bains (France) for the weekend, you can visit Lausanne. The boat goes there and back several times a day. It takes less then an hour (if I remember right) to cross the lake.
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Getting to Ouchy, by the Lake
During our visit to Lausanne we stayed in Ouchy, which is the part of the city located on the shores of Lake Geneva. It is here you will need to go if you want to catch a ferry on the lake, or visit the Olympic Museum.
During our stay we took full advantage of a handy bus that runs from the main train station, down the hill to Ouchy. There is usually a metro that runs from the central station to Ouchy, but it was out of service during our stay.
The MB bus was frequent and easy to use, departing frequently from across the road from the station, and stopping in Ouchy outside the tourist office. The trip took less than 10 minutes.
We didn't have to bother with bus tickets as the rides were covered by our Swiss Pass, though many hotels in Lausanne will give you a free travel pass that covers transport within the city. Alternatively you can purchase a ticket when you board the bus.
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