Chronométrie A l'Emeraude’s Guide to Lausanne, Presented by Watchonista
When visiting Switzerland, most watch enthusiasts will likely find themselves in Geneva at some point, be it to visit a watchmaker, shop at a boutique, or attend a watch fair. But less than an hour away along the shores of Lake Geneva lies another city just as deserving of your attention: Lausanne.
Capital of the canton of Vaud and the Olympic Capital of the world, Lausanne has plenty to offer, like breathtaking lake and mountain views, a delightful old town, world-class museums and universities, rolling vineyards, and a vibrant café culture and nightlife.
The hilly city is also home to Chronométrie A l'Emeraude, a passionate haute horlogerie retailer offering one the most impressive selections of watch brands and independent watchmakers in Switzerland and, for that matter, Europe.
Owned and managed by the Cremers family – who are supported by their highly professional, knowledgeable team – Chronométrie A l'Emeraude operates out of a pair of stores at No. 12 on Lausanne’s Place Saint-François.
On the right is a chic boutique dedicated to iconic brands Patek Philippe and Rolex, making it the only dual retail space of its kind in Switzerland. And on the left is another elegant boutique offering in-house made jewelry alongside carefully chosen timepieces created by big, established brands and the shining lights of independent watchmaking.
Few watch retail spaces in any country are able to offer creeations created by F.P.Journe, Voutilainen, Rexhep Rexhepi, De Bethune, Romain Gauthier, Sylvain Pinaud, Ludovic Ballouard and Raúl Pagès next to watches from Jaeger-LeCoultre, Hublot, IWC Schaffhausen, Tudor, and Panerai. Even high-end mechanical music boxes made by Reuge are part of Chronométrie A l'Emeraude’s offering.
With their local knowledge on par with their expertise of watches and jewelry, Chronométrie A l'Emeraude’s Derek and Marina Cremers reveal their top spots not to be missed during an excursion to, or stay in, Lausanne.
Rest your Head in Style
If you plan to stay overnight in Lausanne, you might as well do it in style. And what better place to accomplish that than at the Beau-Rivage Palace? Having opened its doors in 1861, this grand lakeside hotel – one of the most beautiful in Europe – oozes elegance, serenity, and Belle Époque charm.
Guests can enjoy spectacular views across Lake Geneva (known as Lac Léman to locals) and the Alps, a magnificent pool and spa, a choice of top restaurants, and impeccable customer service from the impressively attentive staff.
Next Stop: Coffee Time
Come mid-morning, and if you feel like a coffee or a light snack, then you need to check out Le Kiosque St-François. Located right in front of Chronométrie A l'Emeraude, this popular meeting point is a Place Saint-François icon.
The diminutive, elliptical building is a renovated former tramway waiting room-cum-newsstand, dating from the dawn of the 20th century. Today, customers can still enjoy the Art Nouveau design and period details of its interior and façade.
It is rare for a city guide to feature a florist, but it would be remiss of us if we didn’t suggest a visit to Meylan Flowers, a flower boutique like few others. Marinette Déglise and her talented, service-oriented team can propose colorful, creative, and thoroughly original bouquets and arrangements, whatever the occasion. This is floral art at its very best!
Spot of Lunch
When your stomach’s rumbling again, and it’s time for lunch, you can’t go wrong with L’Éc(h)o. Run by Zeina Ahdab and Sébastien Déramé, this small, centrally located café offers simple, healthy (yet extremely tasty) dishes made using fresh, seasonal, locally sourced ingredients. What’s more, most of the menu is vegan, gluten-free, and/or lactose-free.
This place is bright and restful, and the staff is very accommodating. Visitors are treated to superb views of Lausanne Cathedral too!
Art Gallery with a Difference
Lausanne boasts excellent museums and galleries to satisfy any culture vulture; however, our go-to spot for artistic sustenance is a less obvious venue: Galerie Syndrome Artistique, which hosts exhibitions exclusively featuring artists that are on the autistic spectrum, the first such gallery in Switzerland.
Its unique ethos is neatly summed up by a quote by French novelist André Malraux, who said: "Art is the shortest path from one human being to another.”
The end of the afternoon in Lausanne means, well, the beginning of the evening, and that calls for a well-deserved aperitif. For this ritual, our pick would be Bar Tabac.
Its simple decoration and vintage glassware recall a traditional Parisian bistro, yet Bar Tabac’s warm, welcoming atmosphere is more akin to a Cheers-style watering hole where locals meet to drink, relax, and chat. Indeed, the bar manages to bring together an eclectic clientele, while the owner, Mehmet Genç, is a real character.
Hearty Italian Fare
For dinner, you should definitely make a reservation at La Grappe d’Or, a veritable Lausanne institution that serves traditional, hearty Italian fare – tasty antipasti, pasta, meat, and fish, accompanied by an absolutely fantastic wine list. Even cultural icons like David Bowie and Grace Kelly are said to have enjoyed dining here in their time.
Plus, as a result of La Grappe d’Or’s cozy and convivial atmosphere – cultivated by manager Laurent Bigler – it is not uncommon for customers to spontaneously strike up a conversation with adjacent diners.
Finish off your day with a visit to The Great Escape. This lively bar is a popular hang-out among locals, expats, and students after a day’s work. Inside is a proper pub atmosphere, with high ceilings, exposed brickwork, good music and a wide selection of international beers on tap.
Meanwhile, outside, there is an expansive terrace – overlooking the Place de la Riponne – where large crowds congregate to drink, chat, and bask in the evening sun.