15 Must-Do Experiences in Suisse Romande
Along with its renowned cheese fondue, the Suisse Romande region offers a range of walks, spas, chocolates, and wines to enjoy. Dotted around this French-speaking part of Switzerland are traditional cities and towns like Gruyeres and Fribourg that serve up melt-in-the-mouth cheeses. Then delve into Romande Suisse culture with a trip to Lausanne’s Gothic cathedral, or experience the sound of the famous Swiss alpenhorn in Martigny.
Avenue d'Ouchy 15, 1006 Lausanne, Switzerland
Switzerland certainly doesn’t lack for world-class chocolate, and Durig Chocolatier continues the tradition with a focus on organic and fair-trade ingredients. At the chocolaterie in the French-speaking Swiss city of Lausanne, master chocolatier Dan Durig leads demonstrations of chocolate-making techniques and treats participants to samples of rare varieties. You’ll want to stock up on sweet souvenirs before you leave, but because no artificial additives, colorings, or flavorings are used, Durig chocolate is best enjoyed within three weeks of purchase.
Lavey-Village, 1892 Lavey-Morcles, Switzerland
Whether after an adrenaline-fueled day on the slopes or a muscle-sapping climb, the Swiss know how to unwind in their luxurious spas. Les Bains de Lavey provides the warmest thermal baths in Switzerland and is equipped with saunas, Turkish baths, a revolving whirl pool and various options for massages. Its location, in the valley of Lavey just north of Martigny, encapsulates the feeling of solitude needed for just an occasion. Listen out for the underwater classical music!
Could there be a more glorious setting for a cheese’s origin? These pastures surrounding a hilltop village (Gruyères) crowned with a castle (the Château de Gruyères), happy Swiss cows grazing with views of the Alps all around, producing the milk which, in time, arrives on grocery shelves as cheese around the world, stamped ‘GRUYÈRE’...and there’s a geometric garden in the castle’s courtyard, too.
Col du Pillon, Route du Pillon 253, 1865 Les Diablerets, Switzerland
The vast wilderness of Glacier 3000 continues to beguile visitors year after year. While you can ski here, most take a snow cat or dog sled across the plateau, or hike to the precipices and look down on the surrounding area. Glacier 3000 is also home to the world’s highest rollercoaster, which hurtles around corners and dips drastically, imitating the sensation of freefalling toward the ice at heart-racing speeds.
La Tzoumaz Rue Centrale, 1918 Riddes, Switzerland
Few dishes exude more Swiss tradition than raclette. For more than 700 years, locals have been gorging on this smoky, often nutty cheese in mountain chalets across the country. For a deep dive into the dish’s history, head to tiny fromagerie La Tzoumaz, where Yohann Magnin works for four months every summer making the drool-inducing cheese. Visitors can watch the entire process, from swirling and heating the milk to packing the cheese into a mold, then venture into the back room to get a sense for the aging process (don’t forget to grab a sample). Magnin is the only cheesemaker in town and his factory sits opposite Maison de la Forêt (House of the Forest) as you enter the village from the valley.
Expect to be transported back to medieval times during your visit to Château de Chillon. More than 1,000 years old, the beguiling castle has inspired many poetic greats, none more so than Lord Byron, whose poem The Prisoner of Chillon was based on François Bonivard’s imprisonment. Travel across Lake Geneva on a paddle steam boat to arrive at the castle and note that the Rivera Pass, offered by most hotels, grants you half-price admission. Once inside, pick up an audio guide (available in English) and explore everything from cobblestone courtyards and eerie dungeons to secret passageways and castle walls.
Quai d'Ouchy 1, 1006 Lausanne, Switzerland
Ever wondered what it’s like to race alongside Usain Bolt? Switzerland’s Olympic Museum lets you to sprint against the fastest human on earth...well, his record time anyway. Fresh from a two-year renovation, the highly impressive museum in Lausanne takes you on a trip through the greatest games on earth. Impressive movies, an array of medals, torches and champion’s jerseys fill the multi-floored establishment. Among the highlights is a reaction test, race track, meditation chair, equipment from Olympic greats such as Michael Johnson, Chris Hoy and of course Usain Bolt. Entrance is a reasonable 18CHF (18 dollars) with an audio guide costing 5CHF. Afterwards, warm-down with a meander along the stunning Lake Geneva waterfront.