Scala Days 2010 will take place on 15-16 April 2010 at EPFL, Lausanne, Switzerland.
Lausanne is the second-largest city of the Lake Geneva region; located in very picturesque surroundings, it is an attractive city with plenty of things to do. We recommend that you stay during the weekend: you will have the opportunity to visit Lausanne, Geneva, spend time on the lake, and maybe opt for a visit in one of the many surrounding holiday resorts in Switzerland and France.
The École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne is located to the east of the city center, in the municipality of Ecublens. The École can be easily reached by using the metro line of the public transport system, or by car. Further details below.
The most convenient international airport close to the city is the Geneva Cointrin International Airport (GVA). It is a large international hub, and its northern border runs along the Swiss-French border; it serves both countries. A train station is located at the airport, and the train takes you directly to the Lausanne main railway station (Lausanne CFF) in about 45 minutes. Four direct trains run between Genève-Aéroport and Lausanne CFF every hour (timetable).
Another airport nearby is the Zürich Airport (ZRH), also known as Kloten Airport. The railway station (Bahnhof SBB Flughafen Zürich) is located underneath the terminal. The train takes about 2h30 to reach Lausanne, and there are 2 direct trains every hour (timetable).
A further option is flying to the Basel International Airport (BSL, EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg). There is a bus connecting the airport to Basel main station, and direct trains from there to Lausanne. The journey takes about 2h40 (timetable).
The official name of the Swiss Railways is "SBB CFF FFS", from the acronyms in the three main Swiss languages. The Swiss rail service is very reliable, and you can easily reach Lausanne by train; the main railway station is Lausanne CFF. Online you can find the complete train timetables, which include the local transport system; you can even just enter "EPFL" as the desired destination, and your hotel address, to receive the exact journey details.
The local transport system in Lausanne is managed by TL (Transports publics de la région lausannoise). Their site is available in French only, but you can find all the maps on this page. One-way and daily tickets can be purchased from the vending machines; you will need tickets for the zones 11 and 12 (which cover most of Lausanne, including EPFL). Notably, if you stay in one of the city hotels, just ask at the reception for a complimentary Lausanne Transport Card, which will enable you to travel on the Lausanne public transport network for free for the entire duration of your stay.
A central part of the public transport system in Lausanne is the underground system, with its two lines. The older m1 line (formerly called TSOL) connects the Lausanne Flon area, in the city center, with EPFL and the nearby town of Renens to the east. The new m2 line connects the port (Ouchy) with the railway station, the Flon area, and with the northern part of the city. You can very easily reach the Polydôme, where Scala Days will take place, by taking the m1 line and getting out at the EPFL station; the Polydôme will be to your left. The journey takes about 15 minutes from Flon, the m1 line runs every ten minutes all day. If you are near the railway station, just take the m2 to Flon (one stop). The m2 runs every six minutes, and during rush hours there is a train every three minutes. You can check the timetables at the SBB CFF FFS website, or you can print them from here (1, 2, 3, 4).
Only limited parking space is available on the campus of the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, also due to ongoing construction work; traveling by train is recommended. The available parking areas on campus can be found on the interactive EPFL map; this diagram shows you the traffic circulation. In order to park at EPFL you will need day parking passes for the "green zones" (parking is delimited by green lines); you can order them together with your registration. For short-duration parking, visitor parking areas are also available, with time meters.
If you would like to rent a car during your stay, the Lausanne Tourism website has a list of car rental agencies, with discounts for visitors. An international driver's license is not needed to drive in Switzerland; a foreign license is valid for 12 months.
Finding parking in Lausanne can be quite difficult. Within the city, public outdoor parking is either in a blue zone (disk parking) or a white zone (metered parking). In the blue zone, use a disk (available at gas stations) on the dashboard, turned to the next half-hour. You have an hour of parking from that point. Most metered parking requires you to put the slip on your dashboard. Parking fines are expensive, so do not ignore the limits. In underground parking garages you receive a ticket on entry. Before you get in your car to leave, you must go to a "caisse", enter your ticket, and pay the amount stated (the machines give change). The machine gives you back the ticket and you have 15 minutes to exit the garage. Sundays and nights, with the exception of the train station and a few very central areas, most outdoor paying parking places are free.
Many useful websites are available with detailed information on Lausanne, Lake Geneva (Lac Léman), the Vaud region, and the numerous nearby cities and attractions. For instance, you can peruse the information contained in the official Swiss Tourism website, the website of the Lake Geneva region Tourism Office, and the website of the City of Lausanne.
There are two tourist offices at the railway station and the Ouchy port, where you can get printed material about the city and the surrounding areas, and a map of the city. The opening times are listed on this page.
Concerning hotel bookings, you may want to check out our hotels page: we have arranged with some of the city hotels a block of rooms for the Scala Days participant at a discounted price. If you are on a really tight budget, you can pay the registration-only fee for the event, eat at the canteen at EPFL for about €7, and stay at the local Youth Hostel. One night in a very basic single room at the Lausanne hostel is CHF 60 (€40, $60), dormitory CHF 36 (plus the member card, CHF 6 per pers./night, which you can get at the hostel reception). Booking well in advance is advisable. (link)
The map shows the locations where the Scala Days events will take place: