Anyone who has ever attended Swiss Expo will tell you that there is nothing like it in the world. Even before the cows enter the ring, the ambiance is electric. Your heart rate increases and you can’t wait for the stars of the show to enter. Simply put, attending Swiss Expo will be one of the greatest show experiences that you will ever have in your life.
Each year the show is held in January in Lausanne Switzerland. The closest airport, Geneva airport is served by almost all European carriers and by four daily trans-Atlantic flights: one from Washington-Dulles on United, one from New York, JFK on Swiss, one from Newark on Continental and one from Montreal, on Air Canada.
Lausanne is part of Suisse Romande/Romandie and thus is French-speaking. However, English is not as commonly spoken as in Geneva, and less than half the population can speak English at a competent level. You will probably have trouble communicating with a commoner on the street, but most service-sector employees speak a little English.
Walking is an excellent way to get around Lausanne. There are a number of sites within a short walk of the Main Station with the largely carfree streets beginning right across the street on rue du Petit-Chêne, which leads up to Place St. François in the old town. Like many streets in Lausanne it is a bit steep, though, so if that’s a problem consider taking the Metro M2.
Sights to See
- Swiss Expo Holstein Show
From the dual purpose breeds that kick off the show to the culmination with the Holstein Show, you heart will race and you will keep thinking, “It can’t get better than this” …. but it does. The Red & White show is the best Red show in the world….bar none. No one, I say No one in the world puts on a better show than the Swiss. The Swiss ring is the most visually amazing place to see a cow shown in the world. And the people are so passionate about the cows that the capacity crowd keeps the building electric. (Read more: 2016 Swiss Expo Holstein Show & 2016 Swiss Expo Red & White Holstein)
- Explore The Old Town
Thanks to the hills making it hard to pave over, Lausanne’s old town is larger than most found in Swiss cities, with the notable exception of Zurich. You can spend days wandering the old cobbled streets and still not know all of its nooks and crannies. After the shops close, there are dozens of quaint, cozy, hip, or just warm restaurants, cafes and nightclubs to experience, especially considering that at Place Central the old town joins with the Flon nightclub/gallery district. Wander as long as you like for, of course, there’s no charge for that,
- Climb the Cathedral Tower
The view from the top of the Cathedral tower is well worth the climb. Ask the nun at the souvenir shop in the Cathedral. From 10 PM until 2 in the morning, a watchman shouts the hours, perpetuating a tradition that dates back to 1405.
- Musée Historique de Lausanne
Here you will find a collection of maps, images and documents about the history of Lausanne, and the Lake Geneva Region from the earliest times through the long Bernese occupation to liberation and the present day. A beautifully hand-crafted diorama of 16th-century Lausanne is worth a visit all by itself.
Also, be sure to see the sights in Geneva including:
- Jet d’Eau, the Rade
One of the crowning symbols of Geneva is the great Jet d’Eau, a fountain of water pumped 140m into the air. The spectacular plume was once an occasional pressure release for hydropower generation on the Rhône River, but people liked it so much that in 1891 the city created a permanent pumped fountain. It’s beautifully lit at night. Best viewed from a distance — the surrounding half kilometer is soaked with water. However, the more adventurous might want to try the pathway leading right up to the Jet d’eau — prepare to get enjoyably wet!
- Cathédrale St-Pierre
The Cathedral and its towers, originally Catholic, both embody the high point of the Reformed tradition and explore the origins of Christianity with an extensive archeological site, and they are now complemented by the International Museum of the Reformation on the ground floor of the Maison Mallet. An underground passage reopened when the Museum was created, connects the two buildings. The archeological tour beneath the cathedral is excellent for those interested in such material, and it explains the origins not only of the cathedral but the reason for Geneva’s location back to pre-Roman times. Those willing to climb the steps of the Cathedral’s towers will be rewarded with magnificent views of Geneva and the lake.
- Old Town
Aside from the cathedral, the Old Town, in general, is worth walking around in for an hour or two. Among the highlights are the city hall with the cannons in the little square opposite to it, Rousseau’s birth house and various antique shops with all sorts of interesting stuff in the windows. The Old Town is situated on a hill with quite steep streets leading up to it.
What to eat
The best souvenirs from Lausanne are probably food specialties from the Canton of Vaud:
- Saucisson Vaudois (pork sausage) and Saucisse aux choux (pork and cabbage sausage), both protected (IGP) brands. Each sausage carries a green seal with an individual registration Best eaten with papet Vaudois, a dish of leek and potato in a sauce made from cream and white wine.
- Pâté à la viande – a small muffin-like puff pastry baked with a piece of meat inside. Join the never ending discussion, which pâté à la viande is better: the one bought from a baker or the one bought from a
- Taillé aux greubons – another cake made from puff pastry mixed with small pieces of bacon.
- Tarte à la crème – a pie baked with cream and sugar on top.
- Tarte au vin cuit also called Tarte à la raisinée – a sweet pie with condensed fruit juice, typically apple or pear.
- Tomme vaudoise – a soft cheese with a mold Best eaten if it is warmed up so that it melts inside.
Where to stay
Most of the hotels in Lausanne are in the mid-price range though there are also some luxury hotels as you would expect in the city which hosts the International Olympic Committee. There are also a few cheapies.
The Bullvine Bottom Line
There are some experiences you just know you will never forget; Swiss Expo is one of those experiences. From the great cattle to the incredible atmosphere, Swiss Expo is simply the greatest cattle experience in the world. Add to that two historic cities and you have a SHOWCATION that is out of this world.