Surrounded by bucolic vineyards high above Lake Geneva, Lausanne, Switzerland’s fourth-largest city, has always trotted along to its own artistic beat. But despite having a vibrant cultural scene and plenty of world-class museums, historically it has never been as synonymous with art as, say, Basel – home to the eponymous collectors’ fair Art Basel – or Zurich, birthplace of the Dada movement. Now, though, the arrival of a major new arts district is set to cement Lausanne as an unmissable destination for culture fiends worldwide. Here are five of the coolest arty spots to hit on your next visit.
What Just opened on the site of disused train sheds adjoining Lausanne’s station is a brand-new 237,000 square foot arts district. When completed, the “cultural 10th platform”, a nod to the station’s nine train platforms, will bring together a trio of the city’s biggest-hitting museums in one complex. Open now is the fine-arts-focused Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts (MCBA), while the Musée de l’Elysée – dedicated to photography – and the Mudac Museum of Contemporary Design and Applied Arts will open by the end of 2021.
Go for The some 10,000 works inside the MCBA, including the world’s largest collection of works by Felix Vallotton, as well as pieces by Anish Kapoor and Paul Klee.
But don’t miss Heading outside to take a snap of La Crocodile, a vast aluminium structure created by Xavier Veilhan and Olivier Mosset as a modern homage to the iconic Swiss “Crocodile” locomotives.
Place de la Gare 16, 1003; +41 21 316 3445
What Attached to the city’s EPFL College of Humanities – a research institute and university – ArtLab holds exhibitions that bring together the themes of art, science and technology. One pavilion is dedicated to big data, while another holds temporary displays, such as work by Prix Pictet-shortlisted artists. ArtLab’s striking, origami-like timber, steel and stone building, designed by Japanese starchitect Kengo Kuma, is just as much of a wonder as what’s inside.
Go for The chance to ramp up your dinner-party chat. Previous exhibitions have covered the AI and VR technology behind love in the digital age, and brain-powered machines.
But don’t miss Joining locals at the on-site Montreux Jazz Café, where you can listen to the digitised archives of the Montreux Jazz Festival while eating plates of Pad Thai.
Station 10, CM 1468, Place Cosandey, 1015; +41 21 693 6501
What A whimsical three-room cocktail bar offering top-notch tapas, which has just touched down in the ‘bobo’ (bourgeois-bohemian) former warehouse district, Le Flon. The interiors are OTT-funky and terribly photogenic – think stone arches, floral wallpaper by Julia Christ, sassy fringed lampshades and vintage tins balanced atop bookshelves.
Go for The beautiful design and ice-cold G&Ts.
But don’t miss The Sunday brunch, and the roster of pop-up events – so far there’s been a Beaujolais festival and a Day of the Dead fiesta.
Ruelle du Flon 4, 1005; +41 21 312 6060
What Another Le Flon favourite is this avant-garde arts venue dedicated to contemporary dance, theatre and performance. Cleverly named – the pronunciation is “arts sceniques” (meaning scenic art) – performances cover a whole spectrum of arts ranging from performance piece meets decision-making simulation game by Yan Duyvendak, inspired by WHO pandemic scenarios, and Vincent Riebeek’s acrobatic take on queer theatre.
Go for The edgy dance performances, which will have you wanting to quit your 9-5 to join an experimental ballet troupe in a flash.
But don’t miss Actually shaking your tail feather at one of their feet-tapping dance workshops.
Rue de Genève 57, 1004; +41 21 625 1136
What Just moments from Place Chauderon is this buzzy café-bar-gallery all rolled into one. Every three months the café walls feature work from a different local artist; recent highlights include Kevin Cantoni’s avian sketches, and bold, punky pieces from as-seen-in-Vogue fashion illustrator Jeremy Combot.
Go for A glass of sharp homemade lemonade and a delicious pain d’épices in the leafy garden.
But don’t miss Cosying up inside with a mug of glögg (nordic spicy hot wine) and tartines de bondelle fumée (smoked fish) in winter.
Avenue de France 39-41, 1004; +41 21 624 1637