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gomiki Mar 11th, 2005 11:51 AM

Report: quick trip to Lausanne/Montreux/Paris
I had an Air France voucher and went with TC to Lausanne to see friends. I had never been there but TC has. We left Monday, March 1. The flight was delayed due to de-icing. Landed in Paris late and missed Geneva flight. It was bizarre. We boarded the shuttle bus and were held on it for 25 minutes. Ten feet from where they let us out!! One bag of three arrived in Geneva. (We packed light, one bag had gifts and items from US.) All checked at same time.

We finally arrived at Geneva airport around 2:30 and took the train into Geneva. We walked briefly around the downtown, saw flower clock and Lake Geneva. The missing bags made it easier! We met our friend and took the train to Lausanne. We stayed with our friends. I love European apartments. This was in an older building and had beautiful windows in the kitchen that opened onto a small balcony. They open like a door or tilt out from the top. The bedroom windows had outside shutters to close and block out light and sound. The living room had exterior blinds adjusted from the inside. It was charming. And the tub was huge :)

On Thursday we walked around Lausanne. It is built on seven hills and the streets are very steep and paved with small cobblestones. It is brutal when wet or snow covered. We went to the Cathedral of Lausanne. It is the best example of Gothic architecture in Switzerland. Once Catholic, it was stripped during the Reformation. There is a rose window similar to the one in Notre Dame. It is the last cathedral with a nightwatch, a man who calls the hour throughout the night. The view of the Alps and Lake Geneva from the site is spectacular.

The people of Lausanne voted to build a Metro. Construction has just started and an underground lake was discovered. This has caused some major problems in the downtown. We were comparing it to the Big Dig in Boston!

Friday we walked to Ouchy on Lake Geneva (about 10 minutes from where we were staying). It was a beautiful day. We walked around Les Quais D'Ouchy and the Place de la Navigation. It amazed me that both in Geneva and here, so many boats were in the water. Mostly sailboats. And it has been very cold there. My friend said they leave them in the water all year long. It is just beautiful with the Alps across the lake. We walked the grounds of the Olympic Museum and looked at all the sculptures. We went inside but we were bundled up and it was too hot to deal with. We walked back to downtown Lusanne and just soaked in the sights of the town.

Next part: fabulous dinner & dessert to die for.

radiofanatic Mar 11th, 2005 01:27 PM

great report - reminds me of my time there. It's funny, I never had any desire to go to Switzerland, but circumstances led my dh and I there and now I absolutely love it! It's so beautiful!

swandav2000 Mar 11th, 2005 01:30 PM


I can't wait to hear the rest!!!


suec1 Mar 12th, 2005 03:57 AM

Enjoyed your comments about European windows! I remember on my first trip I was just so amazed to discover working shutters and the different ways the windows tilted and opened. My shutters are outdoor shutters are for looks only. SueC1

jmw44 Mar 12th, 2005 06:35 AM

And I have to say almost the same -- Your window descriptions make me smile. I always think that if I could, I'd build a house with all those window features. Of course, if you could see my little spit of a house, you'd say 'well that would look pretty silly'. Alas. (not to mention expensive.) Please continue your post sometime this weekend? Thanks, J. Hi, S!

gomiki Mar 12th, 2005 08:13 AM

radiofanatic: I was going to mention the same thing. This trip was a fluke and it was such a surprise to love it so much.

swandav: thank you.
suec1 & jmw44: fellow window lovers!

Friday night we went to the Lausanne-Moudon Brasserie Restaurant. My friends said it is a local place. I asked if tourists would go there and was told it is unlikely. It is very old and lovely. I had Saute minute de boeuf aux des foie gras, gratin et legumes. Ironically, I asked if it would be rare (which I prefer)was told yes, and it was more than medium rare. From posts on this forum, it may be a first!! Regardless, it was melt in your mouth delicious. It was 32CHF which is $28. My friends had lamb and a fish dish. They raved about the lamb. It was a very different taste.

We ordered three desserts: nougat glace with dark chocolate and a red fruit coulis, chocolate mousse and the dessert to die for - Moelleau au chocolat glace vanilla et coulis aux fruits rouges. It is served in a small ramekin. It is warm chocolate cake-like (with crispy edges) with melted chocolate in the center, a bit of vanilla ice cream on top and a coulis of raspberries. I am not a foodie but that meal and esp. the dessert could convert me!!

Saturday we went to visit my friend's mom in Montreux. Unfortunately, the "winter fog" was heavy and we were unable to see the Alps. He drove up, up, up the winding road to the top of a mountain but we still did not get a view. We went to the indoor riding stable his mom uses in Villeneuve and on the way back stopped at Castle Chillon. We did not go in :-< because everyone else had seen it and it was snowing and there was no view. I must go back:)

We parked near the Casino and walked to Zurcher. They have been making chocolates since 1878 and the display of pastries and chocolates was amazing. We sat in the tea room next to the huge windows overlooking the Casino and Lake Geneva having coffee and chocolates. It amazed me to see palm trees (dusted with snow) there.

My friend grew up in Montreux. It was interesting to hear about the changes in the town. The famous jazz festival used to be held in what is now the Casino. It had several different bars including a "cowboy bar". It burned down and was purchased by a French company who built the Casino. We went in for a look but did not gamble. The park where the some of the festival is held has a statue of Freddy Mercury. That surprised me.

Next: home cooking and TGV to Paris.

swandav2000 Mar 12th, 2005 08:44 AM

Ooooooohhhhhhh gomiki,

I'm dying here! I've eaten at Zurcher's little backroom restaurant too, and enjoyed those views. I think I've also used that indoor stable at Villeneuve, when I attended Monte Rosa in 1968.

Did you know the song, "Smoke on the Waters" (Deep Purple) was about that burning of the Casino, with the smoke from the fire lingering over the lake.

Anyway, more more more!!



gomiki Mar 12th, 2005 10:35 AM

swandav: I didn't know that. It sounds like you spent some time in the area. Lucky you! Do you know the name of the tree, bare now, but with tufts of leaves like puffballs, that are still on the tree? Saw many from the train.

Saturday night my friend's girlfriend made Papet Vaudois. It consists of cabbage sausage (!), leeks and potatoes. I was told it is a traditional dish and it was so good. Dessert was an almond meringue cake from a pastry shop.

The next morning we left at 6:45 for the short walk to the train station. It had snowed about two inches during the night. The street had one set of tire tracks and it was just beautiful in the snow. Not as nice was hauling the bags up the three flights on the tiered walk on the way to the station! We took the TGV to Paris, $84 for second class. (Thanks to Bob Brown & indytravel for help with this). It turns out there is a toll free number for Rail Europe 1-800-782-2424. It costs $15 to deliver the tickets as opposed to booking on line but the agents are great and very helpful.

I loved the train. It made four stops before Paris. The countryside was a post card: mountains, woodlots and hamlets. Snow was on the ground, the trees were all dusted and the little houses had smoke coming from the chimneys. I saw foxes and deer from the train. We ended up in the wrong car and had to play musical seats when it stopped in Djon but it worked out.

In Paris we took the RER to (I think) Chatellet and Metro to St. Michele. We stayed at Hotel Cluny Square based on location (I was taking RER to CDG the next morning and the hotel is right there)and reviews on Fodors. And price - $95 including a very good breakfast. I requested a room with a tub. That evening I discoved the tub was not clean and went to the desk to get some type of cleanser. The clerk finally found something like windex. New experience - chambermaid in Paris. LOL! It was fine. I would stay there again.

It was very cold and windy. It was warmer in Switzerland! We just wandered around. It was Sunday and most shops are closed. Went inside St. Severin, up to Sacre Cour and to our favorite Rue Lepic, bought wine, bread and cheese. Snacked in room and later had onion soup and wine at the cafe on the corner.

I took the RER to CDG. There are two stops for CDG. Which one??? A nice man told me it is the first stop. He also asked people in the car when it stopped. As I stepped on, the doors closed on my bag and it took three guys to pry the doors open!! Yikes. After asking several people for guidance I made it to the Air France check-in. I am NOT "amazing race" material!!

I had a wonderful time. As a planner, it was nice to just let it happen. Of course, staying with friends made that possible.

suze Mar 12th, 2005 11:49 AM

Oh man, I *love* that cabbage sausage, leek, potato dish! It's not served in the summer so only have had it (several times) on a trip to Vevey one fall.

And for summer travelers, the Casino you mention in Monteux has an absolutely lovely pool that you can buy a day pass for and hang around with locals and European visitors (nary an American in site besides myself).

Thanks for the great report. I too never had a desire specific to Switzerland, but a dear old friend ended up moving there permanently. So I've been to visit her in Vevey and Montreux 5 times now. Words can't express how much I like that particular little piece of the world.

Too bad about missing seeing inside Chillon, now you *will* have to go back.

gomiki Mar 12th, 2005 12:01 PM

suze: thanks. Aren't we lucky to have friends in such a special place!

suze Mar 12th, 2005 12:04 PM

You're most welcome. I know I can't move there permanently but am trying to figure out how I can go and stay, maybe the 3 month tourist limit, sometime in the future!

gomiki Mar 12th, 2005 12:17 PM

suze: I am envious and wish you luck. Please let us know if it happens!

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