WHERE TO SHOP
Bon Génie-Les Boutiques (10 Place St.-François; 41-21/345-2727) has much in common with Barneys New York. It's a small department store with a well-edited selection of designers (Gucci, Armani, Max Mara), but the cost can be as much as30 percent below what it would be in the States, and that's before the 7.6 percent tax rebate.
• Carla G (7 Place de l'Europe; 41-21/312-5185) sells a collection of body-hugging Italian pieces (fringed leather coats, low-riding jeans) and skin-revealing dresses meant for late nights at hot spots in the nearby Flon neighborhood.
• Swiss embroidery is so expensive that most manufacturers have gone out of business, but Langenthal (8 Rue de Bourg; 41-21/323-4402) remains the source for all things linen—its owner imports items from the countryside, where artisans still delicately embroider handkerchiefs and lace-edged satin sheets.
• For the home chef, Cordon Bleu (22 Place de la Palud; 41-21/311-0270) carries the latest in Continental housewares; you'll find substantial savings on Wüsthof knives, Rösle tools, Kuhn Rikon's durable, double-insulated pots and pans, and other hard-to-find, professional-style European cookware.
Walking up and down steep cobblestoned streets can be exhausting. When a quick lunch or caffeine fix is in order, follow the smartly dressed local demoiselles to Edward's (2 Rue de la Paix; 41-21/311-4748; lunch for two $19), a sandwich shop with a gourmet agenda, where a touch of mustard elevates a classic BLT and a surprisingly good bagel gets a decidedly European topping of cucumber- and mint-laced tuna salad.
• The fourth floor of the Bon Génie department store is reserved for the BG Café (41-21/320-4852; lunch for two $40), a lovely tearoom overlooking the tree-lined town square. Nosh on a smoked-salmon club sandwich (overflowing with sliced eggs, tomatoes, and tartar sauce), one of the half-dozen salads, or just a side of the addictive house-made potato chips.
• Minimalist, thin-crust pizzas draw the lunchtime crowds to Chez Mario (28 Rue de Bourg; 41-21/323-7401; lunch for two $24), a second-story pizzeria with graffiti-covered walls and the best espresso in town.
Every city has a warehouse district; Lausanne's is called the Flon (a short walk from the center of town and steps away from the metro). Skateboarders practice there during the day, but when the sun goes down it's all about the nightlife. If you missed Carnival in Rio, head over to L'Atelier Volant (12 Côtes de Montbenon; 41-21/624-8428). The décor is tropical, the rum flows freely, and the DJ's spin salsa and merengue into the wee hours.
• A giant condom painted on the outside wall is a welcome of sorts to www.jet-lag.ch (23 Rte. de Genève; 41-21/340-6969; www.mad.ch), a five-floor disco where buxom go-go dancers writhe to the beat of hard-core techno music and DJ's from all over Europe entertain the youthful crowd (up to 1,000 revelers can fit inside this renovated warehouse).
• Although Café Luna (7 Place de l'Europe; 41-21/329-0846) is a coffee bar serving light lunches, at night it turns into Lausanne's trendiest lounge — Gitanes-smoking, black-clad patrons snare seats on the couches and practice the art of la drague (French for "flirting").
• Several blocks away, in the heart of the Old Town, Bleu Lézard (10 Rue Enning; 41-21/321-3830) serves casual French dishes until about 11 p.m., when it's transformed into an eighties disco blasting pop music.
Lausanne is an outdoor-sports mecca worthy of the city's distinction as the Olympic capital. (The International Olympic Committee has its headquarters here.) There's a 15-mile lakeside trail wide enough to be shared by runners, cyclists, and in-line skaters, but the real action takes place on the water. The winds on Lake Geneva—Western Europe's largest lake—are remarkably good for windsurfing; the friendly folks at the Surf Shop (1 Ave. de la Plage; 41-21/802-1616; www.surfshop.ch) will fit you with the right board and can provide lessons on the art of planche à voile. Ciels Bleus (2 Place du Vieux-Port; 41-76/366-3949; www.cielsbleus.ch) rents motorboats and offers waterskiing and wakeboarding expeditions for those with a need for speed.
Vicky Lowry has written for the New York Times, Elle Décor, and Vogue.