Love is a very funny thing. It can't be planned, it can't be orchestrated. It always seems to formulate in the people and places you would least expect and once it stems its beautiful head, there is no fighting it. We can't help where we fall in love, and who would really want to?
For me, it was love at first sight on arrival in Lausanne. As a travel writer, I have travelled the world twice over and have spent time in many of the world's most vibrant cities, from Paris to Seoul to Sydney and Hong Kong, but nothing beats the feeling of arriving in a new place and having your heartstrings tugged in directions you didn't know possible.
Here's the story of lovely Lausanne and why it definitely deserves a place on your bucket list, and maybe even a place in your heart.
The Olympic Capital
Known as The Olympic Capital, Lausanne is most famous for being home to the International Olympic Committee blog with 55 other international sports associations and the best Olympic Museum in the world. This is where the modern day Olympics, The Olympic Games as we know them, were founded.
In 1915, the modern founder of the Olympic Games Pierre de Coubertin (who much of the Olympic Museum is dedicated to), decided that Lausanne was the perfect location to host the international Olympic committee thanks to its peaceful location on the shores of Lake Geneva. 100 years later the city was given the official title of The Olympic Capital, to celebrate the centenary of the creation of the IOC.
By far one of the highlights of our weekend in Lausanne, I was blown away by The Olympic Museum. The quality of the exhibits, the interactive nature and the fact that it gave visitors the chance to view and even hold Olympic torches from all the past Olympic Games was incredible.
The home of milk chocolate
No trip to Switzerland would be complete without tasting some of the countries award-winning chocolatey delights. And what better place to indulge in a city famed as been the home to chocolate? While chocolate making in Switzerland dates way back to the 17th Century, it was in the town of Vevey outside of Lausanne in 1867 that Daniel Peter first invented milk chocolate and the Nestle brand was born.
Chocolate-making is not just a job, or a livelihood or even a skill, it is a life passion, a tradition and an ancient trade that will never be forgotten.
A unique position on Lake Geneva
One cannot talk about Lausanne without mentioning it's perfect location on the shoes of Lake Geneva. Locals even insist on calling the lake "Lake Leman" as they feel Geneva tries to steal the limelight (and the name of the lake) when there are way more than just one city or town on this huge lake that forms a border between Switzerland and France. Lausanne's prime spot on the lake is not just aesthetically pleasing, it is the reason the city as we know it is here today and the reason many of the things that make this area special exist.
The city was built on a hill overlooking the lake to make it easier to defend after the fall of the Roman Empire. The nearby world-famous Lavaux Vineyards, which are protected by UNESCO, are also historically located on the shore of Lake Geneva following the arrival of grapes down through the mountains and across the lake from nearby Italy up to 1,000 year ago. It's unique terraces along with many of the other small towns and villages that dot the shores of Lake Geneva close to Lausanne that add to the appeal of the city.
A vibrant centre
One of the things that really sets Lausanne apart from other cities is the way in which it has blended old and new. This can clearly be seen in Le Flon district, which used to be a pretty rough area full of warehouses. It has now been converted into the most vibrant and happening districts of the city, full of bars, restaurants and plenty of fun events and music festivals throughout the summer months. They have very successfully maintained the warehouse district architecture and there is a rule here that any new shops or buildings must blend in with the older architecture or have a "warehouse feel" in order to get the green light.
I think if you do decide to spend a weekend in Lausanne, throw your budget out the window. This is a place to get pampered, to feel special and maybe even fall in love. Check into the Hotel Carlton, that's where we stayed, and let yourself feel like you're back in the Lausanne that Coco Chanel knew and loved so well.
This post was originally published on Journalist On The Run - My Lausanne Love Affair.