The university town of Lausanne is known for its steeply pitched streets where stone buildings are topped by barrel-tile roofs. A gorgeous 12th-century cathedral overlooks it all. Situated on three hills near the placid waters of Lake Geneva, Lausanne has vineyards on the nearby slopes and the snow-capped Alpen peaks in the horizon.
This stretch of Lake Geneva, between Geneva and Montreux, has attracted many writers, artists and musicians since the days of Shelley and Lord Byron. Charlie Chaplin lived the last decades of his life in Vevey, not far from Lausanne.
French-speaking Lausanne has long been a center of arts and education. However, most people here speak English as a second language. There are lots of cultural events, especially when it comes to music. The nightlife is lively because of the presence of so many students, and clubs are open to younger people (beer at 16, liquor at 18). Weekenders from Geneva hop the train to swell the ranks of the all-night partiers, as this city is considered to be much more fun.
Geneva International Airport has speedy rail connections to just about everywhere in Switzerland. A direct train to Lausanne (and beyond) departs very 20 minutes, and takes about 45 minutes. The cost is a little over $20.See Cff.ch for rail infromation.
In Lausanne there are buses and subway trains that leave every seven or eight minutes at peak times. Walking is also an option, but the steep hills make some streets difficult. See the English language pages of Transports Publics for bus and Metro information.
Avenue de Tivoli, on the hill to the west of the train station, has a cluster of gay business. Tivoli becomes Avenue Jules Gonin as it makes its way to the center of the city. On your way, note the large MAD nightclub below, to the left, home to Trixx and Jungle parties. Descend to Place Saint-Francois, where you can walk, take the subway, or hop a cab to most any gay club.
The Swiss Franc is the currency. ATM machines are everywhere, and currency exchange offices are common but exchange rates vary. Shop around and avoid those that charge a commission. Shops at train stations tend to have the worst rates.
Though politically conservative in some ways, the Swiss permit same-sex partner registration at the federal level. Laws banning discrimination based on sexual orientation have been around since 1992. Swiss laws put the age of consent at 16. Prostitution is legal, but sex workers are supposed to register and get regular health checks.
Crossing between Switzerland and European Union countries no longer requires showing your passport, making travel much easier.
Media and resources
MySwitzerland.com has a gay pages along with general information in this official Swiss Tourism website. See the Lake Geneva Region website for more information on local accommodations, excursions, restaurants, festivals, events, and historical attractions.
For map locations and website links to the businesses listed below, and more, see our gay Lausanne listings pages.
There are many hotels in Lausanne, but only one truly gay option, with two different sites.
Rainbow Inn (22 Avenue Tivoli; 21-311-6969 ) the best men-only guesthouse, modern rooms, rates start at 85 francs.
Rainbow Inn Penthouse (7-9 Avenue Tivoli; 21- 311-6969) upscale hotel, great views, free admission to gay businesses.
Bars, Clubs, Restaurants: Flon District
Club Romandie (Place de l'Europe) mixed crowd, electro dance club, cult films, live music.
Jungle at MAD, largest regional gay dance, four times per year, multiple floors, top DJs, strippers, performers, restaurant, VIP balcony.
MAD (23 rue de Geneve) Saturday young, energetic, gay and gay-friendly capacity crowd weekly, top pan-European DJs, performers.
N2O (Place de l'Europe 7) sandwiches, pizza, focaccia, DJ music, mixed crowd - formerly Cafe Luna.
PUR (17 rue du Port-Franc) opposite MAD, gay- friendly restaurant, huge outdoor terrace, pre- dance crowd, weekend brunch.
Trixx (23 rue de Geneve) in basement of MAD, Sunday night gay dance party, mostly younger guys.
Bars, Clubs, Restaurants: Avenue de Tivoli
L'Entrée (5 avenue de Tivoli) gay bar and lounge, cocktails and snacks, dancing weekends, drag cabaret.
Ma Mère M'a Dit (8 avenue de Tivoli) classic cuisine restaurant, lounge bar, gay neighborhood.
Bars, Clubs, Restaurants: North central
Lausanne Moudon (rue de Tunnel 20) grand- style brasserie, classic French cuisine, fine wine, vegetarian options, Sunday brunch.
Les Alliés (48 rue de la Pontaise) bright modern cafe, wine and aperitifs, garden terrace tables.
Le Tramway (6b rue de la Pontaise) small restaurant, impassioned kitchen staff, fresh market produce.
Vinyl Club, Sidewalk Cafe & Broadway Av (Place de Tunnel 9), funk, electro, pop & rock dance club/lounge, restaurant, live music, piano/jazz bar.
Bars, Clubs, Restaurants: South and east central
43&10 (43- 10 rue de Bourg) gay dance club, mixed crowd, open late.
Bar-Tabac (7 rue Beau-Sejour) arty bistro, old- fashioned ambiance, after-work snacks, meet old or make new friends.
Le Bourg (51 rue de Bourg) cafe, bar and nightclub, '60s-style venue, performance art, live music.
Le Saxo (3 rue de la Grotte) bar and restaurant, karaoke soirees, French food, iced deserts.
ML16 (16 Mon Loisir) bar and restaurant, nice garden, favorite women's meeting spot.
Saunas & sex clubs
Sauna Pink Beach (7-9 avenue de Tivoli) largest Swiss sauna, whirlpool, massage, steam, movies, dark rooms, bar and lounge.
Top Club (6 rue Bellefontaine) large, comfortable and discreet gay bathhouse.
New Relax Club (Galerie St Francois A) sauna, steam and hot tub, gay, mixed and straight hours daily.
Trafick (22 Avenue de Tivoli) male erotic cinema, sex cabins, sling, dark rooms, maze, naked parties.
Au Petit Q (avenue de Tivoli 60) fashion underwear, books, and whimsical things on "Gay Street."
Le Garage (avenue de Tivoli 22A) Lausanne's best gay porn store, magazines, books, DVDs, toys, leather and latex gear.