The Essential Foodie Stops in Lausanne

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10 Essential foodie stops in Switzerland's fourth-biggest city

With a frontrow seat on Lake Geneva, Lausanne shows very well. Switzerland's fourth-biggest city is staged on three hills, is surrounded by sprawling vineyards and is decorated with Gothic charm. And being a French-Swiss town, there’s a real emphasis food. Now all you need is a ticket to go there.

We spent a little bit of time in Lausanne, weaving our way through old town, eating through the chocolate shops and finding our way into wine country. If you’re planning on visiting this alluring place, here are the best foodie stops in Lausanne to add to your itinerary:

La Chocolatiere

There are a number of excellent chocolate shops in Lausanne (read: Switzerland) but the story of La Chocolatiere will make you melt. It was previously owned by Jean-Claude Currat, who was a perfectionist that ran the popular chocolate outlet since 1970. As he grew old, he didn’t have anyone to inherit his store, so he planned to simply close the shop. He didn't want to sell it to someone who wouldn’t know how to run it.

For a long period of time, a committed customer, Mercedes Assal, would visit the shop once a week to buy chocolates. When she heard of the sad news, she offered to buy the place to keep it running. Currat refused because she wasn’t a chocolatier. As a last-ditch pitch, she offered to apprentice and learn the nuances of the chocolate under one condition: if at the end of the internship, if he felt comfortable enough with her skills, he’d sell it to her. Fast forward through an 18-month apprenticeship and Assal took over in 2012. She now owns and continues to run one of the most successful chocolate shops in Lausanne. 

Farmer’s Market

If you’re in town on a Wednesday or Saturday, you’ll get a chance to fall in love with the farmer’s market in the town square. There’s a large variety of produce, cakes and cheeses sold at various stalls. Cheese lovers should head to Place de la Riponne where they’ll find fresh-baked bread, various artisanal cheeses and charcuterie. What else does one need to be happy?

The markets flows from Place de la Riponne down to the town hall at Place Palud and is particularly vibrant on Saturdays.

Docteur Gabs

Docteur Gabs is a lesson in successful parenting. As a teenager, Gabriel Hasler asked his parents for a brew-at-home kit and he received one as a gift for his 16th birthday. That led to the inception of his idea to start a brewery. Eventually, that came to fruition in 2001. He’s the only non-doctor in his family, so the name is a tip of a cap to the medical members. Lovely story aside, they make some great beers like the Crockus, which is Smoked Red Ale, to the Chameau, which is an amber brew created from three different malts.

If brewing beer at 16 might that might seem young for the practice, remember that that's the legal drinking age for beer in Switzerland.

Café de L’Eveche

Located by the cathedral, Café de L’Eveche is a great spot for a hot chocolate with a story. Marta Tombolan ran the famous Le Barbare café right by the cathedral and when she retired after her 47-year run, she sold her secret hot chocolate recipe to Café de L’Eveche. Now you can have a glass right there or buy some of the mix to take home.

Café de L’Eveche is currently closed for renovations but is expected to reopen shortly.

Confiserie Tony

Tony’s has become famous for his pavé, which is the local word for cobblestone. The sweet treat is an ode to the cobblestones that line old town. Tony’s cobblestones are a creation that starts off with a Genoese sponge soaked in kirsch (a type of brandy), which is then draped in hazelnut cream followed by a coating of chocolate. It’s his signature item.

When you buy a box of them, they’re meant to look like the cobblestones that make up the Rue de Bourg, which is where the store is located.

Pinte Besson

Pinte Besson is unofficially known as the smallest bar in town. As small as it may look, they still have room for tables and enough space to get a little bit comfortable. It's cozy, to say the least. You’ll definitely feel like it’s better suited for hobbits from Lord of the Rings. And maybe it hosted hobbits at one point as it has a rich history. It dates back to 1780, making it one of the oldest bars in Switzerland. It makes you wonder who and what these walls have seen.

La Mise en Biere

La Mise en Biere is a Toys ‘R Us for craft beer lovers. Beware that if you don’t know what you’re looking for, you could find yourself bound to browsing for quite some time. There are more than 300 craft beers to choose from, which is about as extensive a beer menu as you’ll find anywhere in Europe.

CGN Boat Cruise

Lausanne needs to be seen like a painting: in its entirety and from a distance. The best vantage point to do that is from the Lake Geneva on one of the leisurely boat cruises. There you can gaze back at the landscape to see the town on a hill, the the surrounding vineyards and the cathedral standing tall above the crowd.

The CGN boat cruise goes all the way around the lake. An ideal way to hop on board is to take the train to the countryside and then take the cruise back to Lausanne.

Domaine Croix-Duplex

Speaking of visiting the countryside, a stop-off at Domaine Croix-Duplex fits in perfectly with that plan, It’s literally steps outside of Grandvaux station, which is a five-stop train ride from Lausanne. They have a fantastic terrace for wine tasting and a host of easy-drinking white wines. As you gaze down to Lake Geneva over the UNESCO Heritage vineyards, it’ll become quite evident that Switzerland is ideal terroir for winemaking. The reason you haven’t heard much about it is a combination of two things: the production is quite small and they drink almost all of it themselves! Switzerland only exports about five percent of their wine.

If you do plan to do the CGN cruise after the winery, it’s about a 20-minute downhill walk through the vineyards to get to the Cully boardwalk.

Lausanne Cathedral (Cathedral Notre Dame)

If you need a little walk in between meals, the Lausanne Cathedral is the ideal spot for a recess. One of the finest pieces of Gothic architecture, the cathedral is the centerpiece of a town that has a medieval feel to it. Originating in 1175, it’s the only cathedral in all of Europe that still has a nightwatch (every hour on the hour from 10 PM to 2 AM). From the outside, it’s the towers, spires and the Gothic rose window that catch the eye. On the inside, it’s the one-of-a-kind organ. There are nearly 7000-pipes that took 150,000 hours to create. As you can imagine, the sound is heavenly. If you have the opportunity to catch a concert, you’ll want to fit that into your itinerary.

Where To Stay: Hotel de la Paix

Hotel de la Paix is an elegant option for accommodations in Lausanne. Located in the city center, it’s just a 10-minute walk to the cathedral and within a stroll’s distance of many of the other sites you’ll want to see. It’s housed on a hill, facing Lake Geneva, so it’s worth it to splurge on the room with a view upgrade. A peaceful morning cup of coffee takes on a different meaning when you’re on the balcony gazing at the Alps.

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Pro tip: eat as much Roblochon as possible during breakfast, which is included with your room. It’s a fantastic semi-soft cheese that’s served as part of the hotel’s morning offering.