Living in Lausanne



Living in Lausanne

Lausanne, located on the shores of Lake Geneva (Lac Léman) with a beautiful Alpine backdrop, and surrounded by UNESCO protected terraced vineyards, is easy to love. The city is built on three hills with the cathedral perched at the very top, in the heart of the medieval old town. With a vast cultural scene, top-end skiing within reach, situated in the center of Europe, quality of life in this region is great.

On this page we have put together some useful information about living in Lausanne (see below).

We wish you a pleasant stay in Lausanne and a warm welcome.


Film about Lausanne and the region
Getting to the University of Lausanne

Getting to the University of Lausanne.

Switzerland has three international airports: Zurich, Basel-Mulhouse and Geneva. All three are located less than three hours by road or train from Lausanne. The airport nearest Lausanne is Geneva airport.


Public transportation

The Swiss Federal Railroads (in French: Chemins de Fer Fédéraux - CFF) offer a wide range of travel documents: tickets, cards for specific itineraries, season tickets and a half-fare travel card that most Swiss people have. For travelling at the lowest fares, do not miss supersaver tickets. The CFF also have a very effective on-line timetable covering the entire public transport network (trains, buses and boats). It is even possible for you to order and print a ticket at home.

The public transport system of the Lausanne region (TL) is part of the MOBILIS fare consortium that serves a network of 400 km, with 8 train lines, 32 urban bus lines, 29 regional bus lines and 2 subway or underground railway lines. Mobilis has a single fare grid divided into zones: the number of zones covered determines the price of your ticket. The frequency of your movements determines whether it is advantageous for you to buy a ticket, a one-day card, a monthly pass or a season ticket.

The Compagnie Générale de Navigation (CGN), which is the main boat company, offers a speedy and comfortable service around the shores of Lake Geneva. In addition to ordinary transportation, it offers cruises that give you the opportunity to admire ports and castles, hills and vineyards and, last but not least, the snow-covered peaks of the Swiss and Savoy Alps.



Despite the challenging topography, a bicycle is very suitable for many short and medium distance journeys in the vicinity of Lausanne.

On campus, bikes are at disposal for free after an initial sign-up (PubliBike). There are numerous places where you can rent bikes, also for a long-term period within the company ReCycloBike



The car-sharing service Mobility is beneficial if you need a car at regular intervals. Traditional car rental.

More information about cars and driving in Switzerland. Here you can find information about exchanging your international driver's licence and getting a Swiss driver's licence. Also, information about parking on campus (in French only).



The cultural offer in Lausanne and the region is plentiful. Museums, art galleries, cinemas, castles, vineyards, parks as well as performing arts and festivals fill the cultural agenda and give many options for how to spend your spare time. Of course, there are restaurants for all tastes and wallets. Gastronomy, budget alternatives and local specialities in typical restaurants.
Find out more about leisure activities:

Lausanne Tourism (not all pages are translated into English, but good website to find addresses and phone numbers)

Lake Geneva Region

Calendar of events


Sports and Nature

Lausanne is an ideal place for many sports, especially outdoor sports like hiking, skiing, biking, and climbing. The region is not only close to the mountains; the proximity to the lake makes watersports accessible (“sport aquatiques” in French). As the Olympic Capital, Lausanne has an inevitable connection to the world of sports and sports facilities are often high quality and abundant.
The University has a top-quality sport center where more than 100 different sports are practiced and courses are offered. Find out more about the sport center here.

Do not miss the Olympic Museum.



Most stores in Lausanne are open from Monday to Friday between 8:30 and 18:30. On Saturday stores close earlier, around 18:00. Most stores are closed on Sundays, but there are exceptions around train stations and by the lake in Ouchy. Also, many gas stations have basic food items.
Migros and Coop dominate the food distribution market in Switzerland. Both have online stores as well (Migros and Coop), where products are delivered home. Migros does not sell alcohol or cigarettes.
The center of Lausanne has farmers markets on Wednesday and Saturday morning, selling local and regional produce. On campus, there is a farmer's market on Thursdays between 9:30 and 14:30 in front of the building Geopolis. Here you can buy fruit, vegetables, bread and cheese and also pre-order a seasonal basket with fresh produce.

More information about shopping here (in English) and here (in French).



@Home: Internet via cable or ADSL is widely used in Switzerland. The main providers active on the broadband market are Swisscom and Sunrise. Subscriptions generally run for a minimum of 12 months and the necessary modem is often supplied free of charge to the user. In many cases, you are obliged to use the phone services of the same operator. Connection to the Internet via TV cable is also possible in many cities. For information concerning use, modes and rates, contact Cablecom or your municipal utility services (in Lausanne Citycable, in French).

@UNIL: At the University of Lausanne there is a wireless Internet service open to all members of the community. If your portable computer is correctly equipped and configured, you will see the "public" network that you should select. Open your Internet browser and then type in: Enter your user name and your UNIL messaging password.

@Lausanne: Follow this link to discover where you can find free WiFi in the city of Lausanne.



Fixed line

For internationally calls, a fixed landline is the best option. To get a telephone line you must contact Swisscom (in English). It might be worthwhile to get the ADSL connection (Internet) by the same provider, but this is not compulsory (see section on Internet above).

Mobile phone

In the beginning, and for shorter stays, it might be easiest to get a prepaid mobile phone (bring your passport to the store). There are stores specializing in mobile phones in most shopping centers. Also, big electronic stores also carry mobile phones. Prepaid phones can be recharged in most kiosks and in ticket machines at train stations.
To get a subscription, contact a store or a provider for more information.

Some of the providers are Swisscom, Salt, Sunrise and Migros (in French).



Recycling is an important issue in Switzerland, the world leader in household recycling. You have to buy special white rubbish bags at the supermarket (usually at the information desk) or at the post office. Other bags are not collected.
The following recyclable materials are taken care of at separate collection points:

Paper & cardboard
Pet bottles
Tins & Aluminum & Coffee capsules
Light bulbs
Electronic devices
Old oil
Textiles & shoes

Find out in your neighborhood (in French) where the nearest recycling point (in English) is for the different types of waste.

Short recycling leaflet and a longer, more detailed recycling manual (in French).

More information on waste management in Switzerland.


Learn French

School of French as a Foreign Language

The School of French as a Foreign Language (EFLE) is attached to the Faculty of Arts of the university and offers a range of French courses to non-French speakers. In order to benefit from the supplementary courses or to take diploma courses at EFLE, you have to be enrolled at the UNIL.

On-line basic French course

The Language Centre at the University offers a website for non-French speaking people who just arrived in Lausanne to learn a few words and phrases through an online web interface. Using short video clips, pictures, audio clips and interactive exercises, you will learn some basic French to get by in the beginning. The idea with this playful interface is also to learn about Swiss culture, about some administrative procedures, shopping and so on. Highly recommended as an introduction to French.

French as a foreign language at distance

The School of French as a foreign language (EFLE) organizes a continuing education at distance in French as a foreign language. A basic knowledge of French is required in order to enroll (A2). One module consists of 2 units of 25 hours each. Every unit achieved leads to a certificate; every module achieved leads to a certificate in form of credits (5 ECTS).

Holiday French-courses at the University

The Cours de vacances (CVAC) offers intensive French courses for non-French speakers (all levels) during the summer and winter breaks at the University. Participants must be over 17 years old.

Tandem language learning

The university Tandem program helps participants find a partner to learn the language of their choice. Two people with different native languages meet and learn from each other.

Other language schools

Here is a useful brochure with a list of schools and associations that offer French courses for non-French speaker.


Emergency numbers
Service Number
Ambulance 144
Police 117
Fire department 118
Rega (helicopter rescue) 1414
Poisoning 145
Road assistance 140
Psychological support (main tendue) 143
UNIL emergency numbers UniSep



Ch√Ęteau de Dorigny  -  CH-1015 Lausanne
Tel. +41 21 692 20 20
Fax +41 21 692 20 05