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near Lausanne

Everyone has a story about the Swiss, which sometimes ends up with them getting reprimanded for moving something out of the exact place where it belongs. Or arriving 12.5 seconds too late and missing a train. So I was freaking out when I was en route there because I filled out the blank spaces myself on my railpass that asked for my name and passport number. Just after I did that, I read that it said not to do that: the station agent must be the one to take care of it.

chocolates candied oranges in chocolate

I’ve learned what happens when you infringe on the rules in France and I was expecting them to void my ticket and force me to buy a new one. I was once on a train to Lyon and the birth date on my ticket was wrong—it said the actual date of the day of travel (that date) rather than the day I was born. And the conductor insisted I buy a brand new ticket.

Swiss Mont d'or cheese

Only because I insisted back for about ten minutes that it was actually not really possible that I was born on the exact same day as that train ride that he finally let this scofflaw off. (Also thanks to the woman next to me who intervened and pointed out that it was, indeed, inconceivable that I was born on that day.)

Ready for a fight, when the agent at the Swiss ticket window thanked me for filling out the information, so he didn’t have to, all stress that I was carrying around instantly melted away, like a big pile of grated cheese in a warm simmering pot of Fondue.

mont d'or cheese

Because Lausanne hosts a large university, it has a friendlier vibe than a lot of other cities in Switzerland. Plus the entire town is walkable and I only took the clean, efficient underground twice. Which makes this a nice place to explore for a weekend. To me, it’s hard to travel anywhere for a couple of days because I have to spend the first few days getting acclimated to the streets and transit system, and have to deal with the frustration of getting lost (which I have an unfortunate tendency of doing) but here I was off and exploring right after I arrived.


The locals are fluid at being multi-lingual and polite and friendly. And on a more personal note (more so than revealing my never-fail ability to get hopelessly lost in whatever city I visit), there were plenty of restrooms available for use on the streets and in cafés. So you could drink as much coffee or Swiss wine as you liked and not have to worry about having any urgencies to deal with, as you do, um, elsewhere.


Speaking of Swiss liquids, truly, I’d never heard anything about Swiss wine because I found out that so little of it is exported. The white wines from the region of Leman, specifically in Lavaux are mostly made of Chassela grapes and served brisk and icy-cold. I’ve made the switch to white wine recently and nothing is better than a glass of the local white alongside a rich cheesy plate of Raclette or Fondue.

My only regret is that I didn’t order a few cases to be shipped home because when I returned, I couldn’t find any of those wines in the shops near where I lived, and I missed their taste. But I’ve learned from traveling that you don’t have to take everything home—sometimes you just need to go back. And I will. (But with an extra suitcase.)


For those who really want to taste a large selection of Swiss wines in one place, Vinorama, which unfortunately is in a sleek, modernist building on the side of a small highway that doesn’t take advantage of the magnificent lake view just outside.

Still, it’s good for those who want to do a tasting or make some purchases. And with the efficient Swiss rail system, you can taste as much as you like since it’s just a few blocks walk to the regional train station and back to Lausanne.

Swiss chocolates

When I put the word out on Twitter I was coming to Lausanne, a bunch of people pointed me toward Blondel chocolate shop. And it was the first place I made sure to visit upon my arrival. Located next to a branch of Ladurée, this classic shop is narrow, so you’re never out of arms reach of something chocolate.

I was particularly impressed with the shimmering candied orange slices dipped in dark chocolate and the old-fashioned charm of the place made me want to stay in there and inhale all the Swiss chocolatey vapors.

chassela wine pastries in Montreux

Another pastry shop that I adored was Zurcher, in the lakeside town of Montreux. (Although it’s kind of silly to call anything here “lakeside” since everything is located pretty right by Lake Geneva.) This quaint pastry and chocolate shop has a tea salon where you can have a nice lunch, then head over to the counter and choose from some of the rather pretty Swiss pastries.

I was full but made room for three tea cakes; a honey-almond square, a bumpy hazelnut shortbread, and a thin spice bar filled with apricot jam, which I asked if it was one of my favorite Swiss treats, Zimtsterne, but found out it wasn’t. It was very good and somehow I took one (or three) for the team and managed to eat all of them.

Saucisse au chou airelles

Aside from my copious testing of local specialties, like Raclette, Fondue, pan-fried lake perch, and of course, Zürcher Geschnetzeltes, I attempted to tackle a big plate of Saucisse au chou, smoked sausage made with cabbage. Yet I met defeat. However being a pretzel lover, I had better luck just outside the Globus department store (where I was looking for a metal raclette spatula), at Bretzelkönig, the Pretzel King.

pretzel sandwich

Since it was lunchtime, and I’d worked up a hunger strolling through the vast gourmet food department at Globus (which was a bit pricey for lunch), I decided to multitask and have my pretzel as my lunch, and ordered one with butter and thin slices of viande de grisons (lean air-dried beef) sandwiched in between the salty twists of bread.

swiss watchmaking

For those not on a budget and can afford to eat in places like Globus, you can make your own watch with master watch maker Olivier Piguet in his light-filled studio in the Swiss mountains. He told me that because winters are so harsh, locals didn’t know what to do during the long, snow-filled months up in the Vallée de Joux, so they began making watches. (Me? I would stay in bed under a down comforter and watch DVDs until April.)

swiss watches swiss watchmaking tools

Over the course of two hundred years, what started small eventually boomed and most of the big name Swiss watchmakers, including Jaeger-LeCoultre, Blancpain, Breguet, and Audemars Piguet, are located up there. Thinking it might be fun to get a Swiss watch, I tried a lovely Blancpain watch on with a simple face, classic and elegant. After the saleswoman strapped it on my wrist, I modeled it longingly, and a friend said, “800 Swiss francs? That’s not so much.” (That’s $800.)

Until I pointed out to her that there was an ’11,’ in front of that., which brought the total to nearly twelve thousand dollars. So I put it back.

I know these watches can take weeks to make but if you’re interested in giving Swiss watchmaking a try yourself, you can with Olivier Piguet.

swiss wine association plaque

The hospitality business is, after all, a business. But the other side of the equation that sometimes gets overshadowed is the ‘hospitality’ side of things. For the low pay and long hours, few people go into the business for the money. It’s something that is very demanding and few are cut out for it

mushroom and fish terrine la cuisine du bonheur

The Ecole Hôtelière Lausanne is considered the world’s best training ground for those going into the hospitality business. And they only accept about one-third of the applicants for the highly sought-after places in their program. Young people come from a variety of countries to learn not just how to manage people, but how to provide top-notch service in hotels, restaurants, and in other businesses. Some of them do go on to become CEOs, Presidents, or General Managers, but no matter where they land, when they finish their studies at the school, they are highly sought after once they graduate.

It’s tough to get in and unlike culinary schools elsewhere that will pretty much admit anyone willing to write a check, some of the applicants get accepted. So the students aren’t coming here because mom and dad insisted on it; you have to really want to make the hospitality business your lifetime profession.

swiss cheese

Having lunch in Le Berceau des Sens, the student-run fine dining room, the servers were professional, but not stiff. And although they get graded on if they made mistakes, it was charming to see them try not to crack a smile if they accidentally let a spot of wine drip on the tablecloth. And I couldn’t help but grinning at the dilemma of a young woman trying to figure out under pressure how on earth she was going to cut uniform slices of cheese from cheeses of various textures and shapes while her professors discreetly observed.

Lausanne Hotel school

In our group of Americans, all of us noted that no teenager in America would ever want to go into this business; waiting tables in most countries isn’t based on tips, but is considered a career. And one woman in our group from New York, who had teenagers, laughed when we passed by the student café and said “Could you imagine a teenager back home wearing a suit and tie to class?”

Or being told how to cut their hair, trim unruly facial growth, or remove jewelry. Which is something I wondered when I passed by the photographs on the classroom wall depicting what kinds of jewelry, beards, and tattoos were and weren’t acceptable.

equitable milk & cream truck

Food trucks may have taken over the parking lots of America, but with apologies to all the hip folks lurking outside of taco trucks and eating kimchi-filled tortillas, I haven’t heard of one yet dispensing fresh milk and cream right from their farm. Holy cow! If we had one of those in Paris, I’d be there filling up bottles every week. More likely, every day.

market carrots and turnips

But man cannot like by butterfat alone and the streets of the center of Lausanne become a large-scale open air farmers market on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Truly a market of farmers, I didn’t see much produce shipped in from elsewhere and when I mentioned that to Chef Prutsch (who taught me how to make fondue and was kind enough to take me to the market), he said, “We have such wonderful produce raised locally. Why would be want to ship in things from other places?”

parley root

The market wowed me and I just love food markets. Fruits were a bit scarce, since it was late fall, but squash and pumpkins were everywhere, in all shapes and sizes. Plus rarities like parsley root and yes, even kale (called Choux Nordique) were abundant. And even though I didn’t come home with a Swiss watch, I did have a big bag of that kale in the mini-fridge at the hotel, ready to bring home.

market squash

Being fall, I saw plenty of wild mushrooms scavenged from the forests outside of Lausanne, and even a few truffles. But if you’re a cheese-lover like I am, it was the fromagers with their runny wheels of Mont d’Or and slabs of Gruyère that were the most tempting.

cheese in Swiss market more kale

For those into other kinds of temptations, like scouring flea markets, there’s a small flea market nearby and although there were lots of housewares and such, I managed not to bring home anything. (I was still obsessed with that metal raclette spatula, but the one in the department store was a bit flimsy for thirty bucks.)

cheese at market

And I had my bag-load of kale, which I was protecting like d’or (gold).

wooden animals

But I did see a lot of cheese and since it was nearly winter, Mont d’Or season was in fully swing. I was a little confused because in France, a large wheel of Mont d’Or is called Vacherin, although in Switzerland, when someone says Vacherin, it generally means the firmer Vacherin Fribourgeois cheese that’s used in fondue. I was confused when Chef Prutsch kept telling me that he used “..a mix of Gruyère and Vacherin” in his fondue. And I kept thinking to myself, while looking at the gooey wheels of cheese, “No wonder the fondue in Switzerland is so good!”

cow bell mont d'or

Many consider Mont d’Or the könig of raw milk cheeses since the liquidy, unaged nature of it really makes you focus the flavor of the milk and the cheese. For many years it was not exported to countries like the United States (well, legally at least) because it was a raw milk cheese that was aged less than sixty days. Nowadays all of it is made in Switzerland with thermalized (heated) milk.

The French version of Mont d’Or is still made with raw milk. And the best one I’ve ever had was from Barthélémy (51, rue de Grenelle) in Paris.

mont d'or in switzerland

I’ve had extraordinary versions of this cheese, and some less-enthralling. I guess when you know how good it can be when it’s perfect you’re disappointed when it’s not. Some locals like to warm it up in the wooden container, which the cheese is ripened in to give it flavor, and will pour a bit of kirsch or white wine over it before baking.

I remember a story about an American food magazine publishing a recipe for baked Mont d’Or, and after a bunch of readers wrote in mentioning that the heat of the oven caused the glue in the box to unband the wooden mold in the oven, they realized that in Switzerland they use staples to hold the box together. But for the United States, staples are a no-no and glue was used for the exports.

vacherin-mont d'or cheese faux mont d'or dessert

The cheese is such an important part of the region that for dessert at the Brasserie Carillon the pastry chef makes a custard-like cake created in the same wooden box, with a marzipan ‘crust’. (Above, left.) And there’s a Museum of Vacherin up in the Vallée de Joux and I not only saw the history of the cheese displayed, but I got a hefty taste of the cheese as well, directly from the affineur (ripener). Which aside from the gorgeous views everywhere you looked, made the trip up the mountain worthwhile.

above Lausanne

I don’t normally stay in very fancy hotels, but after being a guest at
the Lausanne Palace and Spa, I could be convinced otherwise. From the moment I checked in they really took care of everything, And unlike solicitous service that one can find in high-end establishments, everyone here was genuinely proud of their job. (Working in the restaurant business for thirty-five years, it’s pretty easy to tell when people are truly professional and helpful, rather than just acting that way.)

societe swiss

Many of the rooms have balconies overlooking Lake Geneva. There is a Cuban-style bar with a list of specialty cocktails that’ll knock your socks off (although the prices will make you stop at just two, which is probably a good idea). But best of all, there is a spa and hamman (Moroccan steam bath) in the hotel and you’re welcome to just walk down there right from your room sporting your bathrobe and soak away in the hot vapors. And that was pretty priceless.

Lausanne Travel Notes

From Paris, the trip to Lausanne is very easy as there is regular high-speed Lyria train service at frequent intervals during the day. Some trips require a change of trains and others make the trip direct in three-and-a-half hours. International flights fly directly into Geneva, which is less than an hour away by train from the airport.

The best way to get around Lausanne and the region is by train, and by foot in cities. You can get a Swiss railpass if you plan to do a lot of traveling but since distances are short, it probably makes sense just to buy tickets as you go. (The Vallée de Joux, mentioned above, is probably best explored with a rental car.) For smaller places, or those on Lake Geneva, train stations are located in the center of towns and Swiss trains and buses are clean and dependable. In warmer months, the train system includes boats that traverse the lake.

Like many European cities, locals of all stripes use public transit. Some hotels will give you a free public transportation card, so it’s worth asking for.

Most Swiss are multi-lingual and although English is widely understood, it’s always best to ask folks if they speak English if you are an Anglophone. The food is very good in this region, as are the wines, and I recommend drinking only local wine while you’re here. If you’re unsure of what to order, ask the waiter for a local recommendation.

Goods and services in Switzerland are not necessarily inexpensive; an espresso at a café costs 3.60CF ($3.60). However if you stick to local specialties, such as cheeses and shop in bakeries and at the market, you can eat well and not break the bank.

The Lausanne Palace is a stunning hotel which falls into the luxury category. I’ve stayed at The Hotel de la Paix, which is quite nice and comfortable and less plush than the Lausanne Palace. And rooms are less.

I asked a woman from the local tourism board for affordable hotels in the area and she recommended some favorites. I have not stayed at any of them, and when I raised an eye about the youth hostel she said they had private rooms which were quite clean and affordable. Swiss hotels in all categories tend to be very tidy and well-kept.

Hotel de la Paix

Aulac Hotel (UPDATE: I stayed here and it’s moderately priced and located near the lake. However is it located on a main street as well and light sleepers might want to book a a room in the back, especially in the summer as the hotel isn’t air-conditioned and there is a certain amount of street noise.)

Lausanne Guesthouse

Lausanne Youth Hostel

In Nearby Vevey

Riviera Lodge

Hôtel Genève

Related Links

Making Swiss Cheese Fondue


Librairie Gastéréa: Gastronomic Bookstore

Bircher Müesli

(Note: Some of the travel for this trip was arranged with the assistance of the Lake Geneva of Switzerland Tourism Board in preparation for a possible culinary trip I’ll be leading there in the future.)


    • Lisa

    I live in tropical Singapore and a girlfriend emailed me your website last month for a recipe she thought I might be interested. I was hooked. I enjoyed reading your blog and ordered the book “The Sweet Life in Paris” which just arrived yesterday. I spent over a month in France last summer travelling throughout the country and had a wonderful time enjoying the local food and wine. Amazing and addictive trip. Keep up the good work you are doing and keep writing! All the best :-)

    • Rosa

    I’m glad you had a great time in my country! I loved reading your words and rediscovering Switzerland through your eyes.

    Your should come to Geneva. We have lots of wonderful wines/vineyards and food specialities too!



    • scarlett

    love your post! glad you like our country. your article is very neat, flattering and well-observed indeed. zurich is amazing, too, in both, a culinary and a cultural way. so if you ever need a personal city guide here let me know.

    many thanks for the inspiration and the praise.
    best from zurich, switzerland

    • Kiki

    I can’t finish reading because I have tears in my eyes. Lausanne is my chosen home town (or rather, the next ‘large’ town to my paradise region, the Laveaux with yes, the best white, dry wines….) and I knew those places, foods, events, you described! Except the Lausanne Palace which doesn’t matter to me because I have family and friends to stay with)
    Be thankful that you drank your coffees in Lausanne, they are dirt cheap in the Romandie. In Zurich I paid CHF 4.80 which of course is really stealing…. I often remark on coffee prices in visited countries, as they vary from very affordable (Italy, Portugal, Spain) to affordable (France) to a luxury: Switzerland, UK!! But then I think that salaries are much higher in Switzerland too, so they must ask more.
    Thank you for this lovely, lovely post. I am homesick at the best of times but this in November when my heart is heavy with homesickness….. that’s nearly too much.
    Greetings to Scarlett; I am from Zurich too but decided long ago to make the Romandie my ‘home’. Kiki

    • Georgia

    David! You made it to my adopted country! Wonderful! Yes, for the wine, yes, for the cheese, and yes the Ecole Hotelière de Lausanne is an amazing school! My son is a last year student there, the training is impeccable, but did you know that many of the students do not go in to hotel/restaurant managment?
    I agree with Rosa, come to Geneva and with Scarlett, visit Zurich!!
    Warm regards!!! Georgia

    • Kiki

    Rosa; read David’s note….. he will take a culinary tour to Geneva! For me it’s Lausanne that makes my heart beat stronger (and of course, Zurich…) – Geneva, for the rest of the Swiss, is NOT Switzerland – too international, you don’t hear any French only English and any Eastern language, but of course I have very dear friends in Geneva and they can’t praise their town enough… Chacun à son goût! Je te salue bien!

    • Hannah

    I honestly can’t decide what I’m more enthusiastic about: the cheese, or the toilet signs.

    Cheese. No, toilet signs. Toilet signs. No, the cheese…

    • Dmarie

    Thanks for letting us live through your travels vicariously! Love this post…yet another destination added to my wish list.

    • yannka

    Hello David, absolutely agree about the amazing friendliness in Lausanne! We visited many places in Switzerland this summer, including Lausanne. When we were (hopelessly) looking for a place to park the car, a guy showed up and offered us his own private parking spot – he said it belonged to his office and he did not need it as he was just leaving. These things always warm my heart.
    The wines from Lavaux are great, too.

    • Caffettiera

    Now I need some cheese. I really do. Beautiful pics – I’m happy you’ve found some kale eventually.

    • Emy Koster

    Such a great post! My boyfriend is half swiss and I’m dying to go over there. I will def. keep some of your pointers in mind. Thanks!!



    • Nisrine

    The top picture is amazing. Great to discover Lausanne with you. Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Georgia

    Oh la la KiKi,
    Ce n’est pas vrai… yes we are an international city in Geneva and my son constantly teases his lovely girlfriend from Lausanne that she is from the provinces. That does not stop him enjoying the wine from her family vineyard in Lavaux however, but Geneva is a great city as well as Lausanne… Venez David! Vous êtes le bienvenue en Suisse Romande!

    • A Plum By Any Other Name

    I’ve fallen in love with those chocolate dipped oranges. And the pictures of runny cheeses never disappoint! Your swiss-stay sounds divine, especially the hotel.

    • My Kitchen in the Rockies

    Happy Thanksgiving, David.
    Great travel report. I enjoyed it a lot. Bretzel, Maronen and a good cheese. Can’t wait to go back next summer.

    • Guindilla

    I have fond memories of my 7 years in Lausanne. I spent my university years there, and it is a magnificent little city. It is an amazing experience to study with the breathtaking view to the Lac Leman and the golden roofs of Evian on the other side of the lac (for those visiting the university, try the last floor cafeteria of the Microtechnique building).

    It is also full of interesting small cafés, good beer (Les Brasseurs) and nice places to eat. Good fondue can be found in a restaurant close to the Cathedral, Café de L’Eveche. Try the different kinds of fondues from the different parts of Switzerland.

    Lausanne, a great choice for a trip. I am happy you liked it!

    • Marlene

    This is an exceptional post among your many! Not only one of your longest, but one of the most fascinating to read. It has it all—from a great story and images that enhance every detail. Thank you for a very wonderful Thanksgiving Day read. (I almost didn’t check your blog today—thinking maybe the holiday meant no posts! Glad to be wrong).

    My favorite Swiss wine to drink when having raclette is Aigle les Murailles. In my remembrances of things past, a sunny day in January, lunch on the outdoor terrace of my hotel in Klosters surrounded by snowbanks of white… there was the crisp, dry wine with the meal.

    • @piercival

    This brought back such fond memories. Many years ago my wife and I arrived there, by train and quite mistakenly. Leaving Paris I attempted to sound as French as possible (hey I was young) when I purchatickets to Lucerne. By the time we realized my error it was too late. We found ourselves soon enchanted and spent 2 days there. Magical city, wonderful food and tasty beer and wine, can’t wait to revisit.

    Thanks for all your terrific articles!

    • Tami

    Mont D’Or is one of my favourites. Thanks for reminding me to get my hands on some now. With such a fleeting season, its here and gone in a wink. I love baking it and feasting with bracing white wine:

    • Susie

    I love the WC sign! Where did you see/find them!

    • Lydia

    Fantastic, fantastic story and photos! You’ve made me crave a visit to many of the places you’ve told of, but never before have I wanted to drop everything and book a trip instantly.

    • Max

    Very nice article. It does show a Lausanne experience… and, as other commenters mentioned, the openness and friendlyness of the people is amazing (I had surprising and very positive experiences in the past).

    Getting there, if you are coming in from overseas, flying via Zürich is an option as well, as Genève has very few long-distance flights, and it is roughly 2h30m from Zürich Airport, with a direct train every hour, and an additional hourly connection 30 minutes apart.

    • starman1695

    Happy Holiday!

    • Louise

    I’ve never thought much about Lausanne. And I’ve not been lucky enough to visit Switzerland (yet). I’m more keen than ever to go now though. It sounds wonderful. Why is Europe so far away from Australia? It’s most annoying. I love the idea of fresh dairy trucks, narrow little choclate shops, their open air markets, and the humour in their toilet signs.

    • Céleste

    So happy you liked it here! You have to come back for a book signing sometime!
    Ever since you mentioned your trip to Lausanne and that you found some kale here, I’ve been meaning to ask you where exactly? I keep looking for it but never found it! Was it on the place de la Riponne? Place de la Palud? Or in the posh Rue de Bourg? Or maybe the little sidestreets?
    Happy Thanksgiving and thanks for your posts!

    • Renee

    I’m so excited to see parsley root in your pictures. I’ve been getting parsley root in my CSA boxes for a while and never found recipes. After searching in french I’ve found recipes for soups, veggies sides etc. Plenty of “food for thought” and inspiration to use up my supply which is languishing in the fridge. I had thought to grate it like celery root but the french recipes seem tailor made for persil racine. Thanks! Great post on Switzerland. I’m Lusanne putting it on my next european destination list.

    • Enzo

    Great post. I enjoyed it immensely.
    Thank you David

    • homegrown countrygirl

    I love to read your travel stories. Your pictures are as fabulous as your writing!

    • Sweets

    Nice post! Glad to read about your trip in those cities. So much cheese and I love it!!

    • Wei-Wei

    My sister went to college in Lausanne! I’ve been there, it’s an amazing place and I do love the transport system. I had fondue and raclette there… it’s amazing. My sister and her friends went regularly to a restaurant/bakery called Mauro’s, which had amazing focaccia and pizza. Mmm, mozzarella…

    • Amanda

    I struggle to empathise with your stress when you get to stress in such picturesque surroundings – with only a train ride!! And such gorgeous food, too. Jealous.

    • Linda H

    Been there. Really loved it, too.

    • My Restaurants Melbourne

    That’s such an interesting write up, it makes me want to go traveling and experience it for myself, I loved the photos of the male and female toilet signs!!

    • Bonnie

    David, this posting is unconstitutional—cruel and unusual punishment—for those of us NOT traveling with you;-)

    • Carolyn Z

    What a nice thing to come home to after the Thanksgiving day feast! Thanks!

    • suedoise

    Thank you once again for a wonderful portrait of a country let alone pretty Lausanne where I was sent as a school girl to learn French. I did not much appreciate it
    as I knew there was a better world elsewhere having spent a year in an American high school.
    I noticed your mentioning of kale as “choux nordique” and indeed so as kale
    is present at every opulent Nordic Christmas table, its bright green colour a promise of the end of Winter and its strong content of vitamin C and its very reasonable price
    making it invaluable for the rest of Winter. Best as soup.
    As for candied pieces of orange with dark chocolate I strongly recommend
    La Patisserie de l´Eglise in the 20 th arrondissement -metro Jourdain – with its
    unsurpassed “Merveille d´oranges” available only at this time of the year and through the holiday season.
    A perfect gift for the palate of your loved ones.
    Apart from finding all year round the best millefeuille of Paris according to the discriminating jury of Figaroscope.

    • Jeniffer Paxton

    I think this email I just received from my best friend sums up today’s post perfectly…

    “Reading David Lebovitz blog today – think we should go to Switzerland, sounds nice and we could get really fat.”

    • Didier

    Yep, Lavaux wines, and Epesses among them, are great, reasonnably priced (considering the value), and barely exported. Switzerland best kept secret…

    “on a train to Lyon and the birth date on my ticket was wrong”…hmmm, that’s an amazing case of parallel universe.
    In my own universe, I have been travelling to Lyon twice a month for the past 20 years, and no birth date has ever been displayed on any of my tickets… :-)

    • Barbara

    You need to come to Holland for kale–it’s just about the national vegetable. Known as boerenkool (farmers cabbage). In supermarkets you can buy it in bags already washed and chopped up for use in the boerendkool met worst, which is basically potatoes and kale mashed up together and served with a smoked beef sausage.

    By the way, your parsley root looks to me like parsnips. So for people looking for recipes, that’s another keyword to search on.

    • NYC Girl

    OH wow, I absolutely adore the signs… can I buy them? What a fab array of photos you allowed us to look at. Happy Holidays.

    • Kiki

    @ Georgia…. lol :)
    Fully agree with you….. coming originally from the ‘world town’ Zurich I considered Lausanne the ‘comble’ of lovely provinciality… – a statement ‘well founded’ by the arrival of several boys (young men) from Lausanne who didn’t know ANYTHING about life, women, fashion and what have you!!!! My belief that Lausanne was charming but backwards was cemented by my getting in contact with ex ‘Suisse Allemaniques’ who – after years and years in that corner – still spoke French and behaved like they had just jumped from the shrubs…. But I also already half-heartedly LOVED Lausanne at that time and I used to say that I would go and live there once I would have my pension ahead of me – because by then I’d have settled into that slow mode of life!
    Everything changed when I lived with my (Suisse Romand) husband in a quaint corner of Southern England for over eight years and my favourite sigh was: NOW I would be ready to live in Lausanne…. :))) And then, after returning from UK to CH, I lived for 2 1/2 happy years in LUTRY and I will now always pine for Lausanne…
    And I DO want to apologize for teasing Geneva people; I thought of removing that remark because I felt it could be missunderstood…. but helas and luckily, everybody got the teasing remark as what it was, a teaser… we do love each other after all. And I let you have David for his hopefully upcoming trip to Geneva! OK?! :)

    • Nicole

    Parsley root is also called Parsnip, is that correct?
    Wonderful post- you have a small typo under the market veg photo (live not like) just wanted to point that out. Hope you don’t mind.

    • David
    David Lebovitz

    Nicole + Barbara: Although they look pretty similar, they are different (unless someone knows otherwise.) I bought some parsley root in Paris once, which were smaller & they were somewhat spicy rather than sweet, like panais (parsnips), which go by a different name.

    And thanks for pointing out the small typo : )

    Céleste: I don’t recall the exact location of the folks selling kale, but I did see it at at least 2 stand.

    Didier: Sometimes in France is you buy tickets online, they ask for your birthday. In fact, I bought one yesterday for just a short trip (1 hour) from Paris and they asked for my birthdate for the ticket. Sometimes if you get a ‘deal’, they’ll require that so you can’t resell it.

    suedoise: That’s a nice pastry shop but I really like their bread bakery, Boulangerie 140, just around the corner.

    NYC Girl: I don”t believe they’re for sale. They were a museum!

    Jennifer: There’s plenty of walking on my tours to guard against that. Well, somewhat..

    • Diana

    I’m staying in France for a few months and have been looking for Vacherin, maybe I should be looking for Mont d’Or–so glad you posted about it. Sounds like it might be seasonal though, or not available in the Toulouse area, where I am.

    • Vicki B

    I love this place. Haven’t been in 35 years but your pictures look as beautiful now as it did then.

    • Céleste

    Thanks anyway! I’ll go and look for it tomorow!

    • Nicole

    I can’t believe you can’t get kale in Paris! They have it here in Rome. I was in Paris a few weeks ago and was very jealous of the butcher shops and cheese shops, especially. While food in Italy is out of this world, there is a very special place in my heart for Paris and French food. The variety just can’t be beat. But I can understand how it would be hard to live without kale (especially for winter soups.)

    • Mayet

    looking forward to your visit here Geneva!!!

    • Anna Johnston

    I’ve always been fascinated with Switzerland & really enjoyed your wonderful post, I’m even more intrigued now.

    • Cooking in Mexico

    I very much miss the excellent travel articles in Gourmet Magazine since they folded. Your writing and top notch photos fill the void. Thank you.


    • gloria

    David, what really lovely pictures I enjoyed a lot! and the cheese, and the nuts, all look delicious! thanks by sharing, great pictures, gloria

    • witloof

    my favorite recollection of lausanne was this museum:

    • Donna Adams

    Happy Thanksgiving and I am very Thankful for all your information Always!!!!

    • Michel

    Great post. My father was born in Lausanne but I have never spent any time there despite numerous trips to Switzerland over the years. Sounds like I need to go there next time we are in Switzerland.

    • Tina

    Nice place and food! What more can you ask for, except a cheap watch=)

    • S Lloyd

    I think you’ve covered pretty much everything swiss (cheese, fondue, chocolate, watch). It’s a pleasant country to visit (small, and yet packed with a varied gastronomy)

    • pam

    Ohhhhhh did this take me back. I lived in Zurich a looong time ago, and then returned in my college years to spend a term near Lausanne (in a little town called Leysin). The Zuricher Geschnetzeltis is legendary in my family (along with the more obvious fondue and raclette). I think maybe Rosti (pardon the missing umlaut) is more a Zurich thing than a Lausanne thing, but I covet that as well, and the little Zwiebelkuchen they sold on the streets in oldtown. When I was there, the Jelmoli store in downtown Z was the only source for peanut butter. I’m sure that has all changed….

    • Vanessa

    ahhh I love Switzerland!!!

    Beautiful shots…thanks so much!

    • arlene of va

    I’ve never been to Lausanne but am now enticed to go there based on your post. By the way, have you ever tried the baked goods at the Sprungli bakery in Zurich airport or downtown Zurich? If so, what cake and pastry did you like the best? I’ve only sampled a few of their baked goods from the Zurich airport branch. I am a fan of their vanilla and hazelnut flavored luxembergerli and a type of butter cake baked in a small bundt pan but sadly, the name of the cake escapes me. I brought some back to the States to share with my family. I wish I could remember the name of this special Sprungli butter cake.

    • arlene of va

    One more question, what are you planning to bake and give away as gifts this holiday season?

    • Leah

    Love this post, David! I feel as if I’ve taken a wonderful trip to Lausanne, myself.


    • Susan: My Food Obsession

    All that swiss food looks amazing!

    • Georgia

    David, KiKi and I will both welcome you to la Suisse Romande… and I’m so proud to see my son lurking in your photo of EHL and no, I will not tell you which handsome student he is!
    Thanks for your outstanding blog David and :) to KiKi!

    • Xavier

    David, I’m glad you came to my town and did appreciate it. Café du Grütli is my girlfriend favorite place to have a fondue and I often see Willi Prutsch at his terrass when going to my yoga class. André Macheret also happens to be my favorite cheese vendor, I’m so glad M. Prutsch buy his cheese by him. Unfortunately I did not see on Twitter that you were coming so I could’nt give you any recommandation.

    There’s in fact a truly extraordinary gelateria in Lausanne. Rue de la Borde 15, a few minutes walk from the old town you can find Luigi et Annelise Pedrazzi. They have a small gelateria and also produce ice-cream for a few local restaurants. After having been living in Paris for a few years and having tasted ice-cream in Venezia, Napoli & Toscana I must say that Pedrazzi gelati really stand out. Even if my freezer is full of Pacojet beakers (Did you know that Pacojet was invented by Wilhelm Maurer, a Swiss engineer living in Brazil ?) I cannot resist to pay regular visits to the Pedrazzi. Their ice-cream are amazing and, even if introverted, they are the nicest people. In addition to the usual flavors, they have truly amazing unusual flavors (My favorites : Kulfi, Curry and Coconut Water with flower of salt)

    If you happen to come back in Lausanne, you should really pay them a visit. I would be happy to offer you a coppetta of gelato.

    Thanks again for having visited us, I hope you will come back

    • Leesa


    FANTASTIC photos- it makes me want to hope in a plane or train and head right over there! Thanks for sharing your trip with us… Looks as though the Swiss really know “how” to live…


    • Eileen

    Great post. I have not been to Switzerland in over twenty years; you remind me that I loved being there and should plan a return trip. I was hoping that the post would include a great cheese fondue recipe…can you post one from your recent travels? Thanks and Happy Holidays!

    • Jill

    Not that I think you should ever stop making delicious things (especially the ones with “Caramel” or “Ice Cream” in the title), but if you decided to start writing travel books, I would totally buy them. I never gave Switzerland much thought before reading this- in that it just never entered my conscious as a place you could vacation in the way that you think London or Paris would be (I hope lovers of the Swiss don’t take this the wrong way.) But now I have an urge to add this to my list of places to go to when I travel continental Europe. I’ve also been craving cheese like nobody’s business…

    • David
    David Lebovitz

    Eileen: I did post a Fondue recipe and it’s linked at the end of the post. Enjoy!

    Xavier: He’s such a nice guy, I do hope to return. And thanks for the heads-up on the gelato spot.

    Arlene: I usually make loaves of Persimmon Bread and hand them out. Everyone loves them.

    • Kathleen

    More beautiful pictures of pumpkins, squash, parsley root – I just love those root vegetables! And the cheeses – I could taste them.
    Not only are you such a talented baker, but a fine photographer and writer. You should consider publishing a book of just your photographs and descriptions of food from all over the world – both are priceless.

    • Peggy

    Just getting caught up on reading your blog and low and behold saw this entry on Lausanne. It brought back so many memories of our years in Geneve. The Mont d’Or . . . so delicious, the chocolates . . . divine. Thanks for taking me back.

    • Cheryl in Lyon

    My husband teaches in Geneva and we always joke about how absolute rule-following sticklers they are (esp compared to French!). 2am, red light, no cars in sight — the Swiss person waits for the ‘walk’ sign, because that’s the rule. My fave, though, is the ‘no peeing standing up or doing laundry after 10pm’ sign that I saw in an apartment building.

    Question- I had one of the most amazing chocolates EVER from a chocolatier in Geneva- Zellner (or Gellner- the script writing is imposisble to tell). It’s a pave glace- (pah-vay- I have no accents on my laptop) the texture is *almost* truffle-like, but there’s not an outer coating. I hadn’t ever seen them before- or since. Are they a Geneva thing, a Swiss thing or really common and I just never noticed? How do they achieve that texture- like a very intensely chocolate cloud that just melts on the tongue and then whispers away, leaving no coating of cocoa butter or fat, but just a sort of ‘essence’..Thanks!

    • Christine

    Hi David,

    Thanks for the advice on where to get Mont d’Or in Paris. We went to Barthelemy and got a lovely one. A wandering yielded fromage nirvana. Merci!

    • San Diego Home

    whaen u talk about switzerland….. ahhhhh….. (sighhhh)… its just a dream for me. i have tried to visit this beautiful place twice in my life. but both times., some problem arises due to which i could’t go there.


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