Lausanne is a traditional Swiss city on the edge of the glittering Lake Geneva (known as Lac Léman in French). Meanwhile, Evian-Les-Bains, on the opposite side of the water’s edge, is a French resort town whose natural spring water has long been bottled up and sold as the popular natural mineral water you’ve likely purchased in plenty of supermarkets. If you want to visit both in one day, then it’s easy to take a day trip to Lausanne, Switzerland from Evian-Les-Bains, France!
Ferry day trip to Lausanne from Evian-Les-Bains
There are no car ferries between Lausanne and Evian-Les-Bains. Instead, pedestrian boats cross the lake multiple times a day between Lausanne of Switzerland and the French settlements of Evian and Thonon. Alternatively, if you have access to a vehicle, then the drive from Evian to Lausanne takes roughly an hour.
This being said, if you want to avoid the stress of parking the car and driving on the other side of the road (if you’re like me and from the UK!) then the ferry is your easiest option. You can purchase tickets for the boat from the booth office, located right by where the passenger ferry docks. Return tickets are around forty euro (or forty Swiss Francs) and the journey takes about thirty minutes. Trips across the water take place every hour and a half during daylight hours, and throughout the year.
Word of warning: when you venture out for the day from either Lausanne, Thonon, or Evian-Les-Bains, make sure to check the time of the last ferry (and perhaps set a reminder on your phone). After all, you wouldn’t want to get so busy exploring that you get stuck in Switzerland overnight (or France if you’re making the trip from Lausanne to Évian-Les-Bains)!
Once in Lausanne, you’ll soon discover that there are plenty of things to do and even more to see. The walk from the ferry up into the centre of the city is a fairly long one and walking the distance will take around thirty minutes. However, the metro closest to the ferry costs under 4 Swiss Franc per trip and will take you to the heart of Lausanne within five to ten minutes.
Things to do during one day in Lausanne
Filled with fairytale architecture and plenty of picturesque views onto the glittering Lake Geneva, you certainly won’t regret taking a Swiss day trip to Lausanne! If you’re leaving France, then Lausanne is also the perfect introduction to a Swiss Adventure, with cities like Geneva and Bern just a short train ride away.
Musée de l’Élysée: One of the best photography museums to be found anywhere in Europe is in Lausanne, along the banks of Lake Geneva. Set against the backdrop of a beautiful 18th-century mansion, the museum was founded in 1985 and the entire place is dedicated solely to photographs!
Visit Lausanne Cathedral: Situated in the very heart of Lausanne’s old town (every European city seems to have a picturesque old town!), Lausanne Cathedral is said to be one of the most beautiful examples of Gothic architecture in all of Switzerland. Opened in 1235, it’s ancient and vast interior is well worth a wander around.
Olympic Museum: From the moment you step off the Lake Geneva ferry, you’ll be greeted by signs of the Olympics. One of the first things you’ll see when stepping foot in Switzerland is actually a countdown for how long’s left until the next Games! Elsewhere in the city, there’s a museum dedicated to all things winter and summer sports related.
Palais de Rumine: Home to several museums, the Palais de Rumine is set in a stunning building constructed in the Florentine Renaissance style. Free to visit, some of the best museums contained within the former palace are the Museum of Zoology, Museum of Money, and the Cantonal Museum of Fine Arts.
Walk around the old town: One of the best things to do in Lausanne is simply to stroll around the city and allow the city to reveal itself to you. Head to the panoramic viewpoint next to the cathedral at sunset for breathtaking views of the Alps, or head to Place du Palud for when the hour strikes (during any time of the day) to see the intricate mechanical figures on the clock of the city hall.
Tips for visiting Lausanne & Evian-Les-Bains
Different currencies: Switching between the countries of France and Switzerland mean that you’ll end up switching between the Euro and the Swiss Franc (though I’ve heard you can pay for the ferry in either currency). Lausanne is easily one of the most beautiful places in Switzerland, and so the inconvenience of converting currencies is definitely made up for by the town’s beauty!
Different prices: Switzerland is notoriously expensive, and Lausanne is no exception. If you’re looking to save a little money, then bring a picnic purchased in France along with you (just as we did). The main museums of the city are free to visit, and the winter market around Christmas time serves reasonably priced beverages. Several churches and historic façades throughout both cities can also be admired for free.
Language spoken: The official language of both Évian and Lausanne is French. You can’t go wrong by purchasing a French phrase book, or at the very least learning some simple French phrases (hello/ please/ thank you). Otherwise, you’ll find that many people speak English, especially so at tourist attractions or in bars, restaurants, and cafés.