As we zoomed down the metro line, the puzzle unfolded with the first clue we were given: watch for the fox’s green paw print on the rail track.
Later, during our half-day adventure chasing the “fox”, we had to figure out a series of other clues: a barometer showing a thieving alligator, a particular sewer pipe, a horse that likes sugar cubes, a giant naked man, an eternal flame and many other head-scratching, chin-rubbing clues that excited our imaginations and challenged our brains – all this time hoping to stay on the trail of a very clever fox, indeed.
And if I told you any more about those clues, that fox would justifiably bite me on the behind. Because solving clues while exploring the city is the whole point of Foxtrail Lausanne, an adventure game that’s part scavenger hunt and part city tour, requiring sharp thinking and good walking shoes. The gameboard is the city of Lausanne.
The concept is simple and irresistible for certain sleuthers: Sign up online for your Foxtrail adventure, choosing your date, time and the type of adventure you prefer. Besides Lausanne, Foxtrail offers adventures in 11 other Swiss locales, plus Helsinki and soon other cities (see below).
In Lausanne you can choose between two routes: one that’s more of an urban adventure, one that takes you to leafier environs. After reserving your time and place and the number of people, you receive an email with all the clues you’ll need to follow the fox as he scampers through the city. Sometimes you’ll need to locate a certain kind of street lamp, sometimes a sign or numeric keypad.
Foxtrail is geared toward people with active minds and bodies – it’s definitely not for video game couch potatoes or for young children who might find all the walking and puzzle-solving over-tiring.
There’s no time limit. Our “Citi” trail was said to take about 2.5 hours. Not for us! We dallied here and there to gaze upon corners of lovely Lausanne we might never have seen otherwise, pausing at the lively outdoor market in Place de la Riponne for a tartelette and cold drink, and some exceptional people-watching.
Afterwards we were off again, following clues, including finding the right bus stop to get to another part of town. (Local public transport is included with your Foxtrail ticket.)
By mid-afternoon, after a few missteps and dead-ends (easily put back on track by calling the nice multi-lingual man on the Foxtrail helpline) we found ourselves by the lake, gawking at another bronze naked sculpture who was the subject of another clue. She was quite the fox, but not the fox we were trailing. So, after another pause in the shade, onward we went on our quest.
All in all it was a fascinating adventure, sometimes frustrating as any puzzle is, often rewarding when we put on our thinking caps, learned to be not too literal, and figured out what clues meant. And best of all, our adventures along the Foxtrail led us to parts of intriguing Lausanne that we might never have otherwise discovered. Did we ever find the fox? Fortunately for you, no. Which means he’s still out there, just one step ahead, daring you to follow his trail.
How: Info and reservations online.
Who: Clubs, couples, families, groups of friends, coworkers or students. Best for puzzle lovers with a fair bit of physical and mental endurance.
Prices: Tickets range from between CHF 31 to CHF 41 depending on the trail (short or long) for groups of 18 or less, with discounts for children under 16 and for families. Larger groups can request an individual offer.
Where: Besides, Lausanne, there are 48 Foxtrail adventures offered in 11 locations around Switzerland and in Helsinki. Coming soon: London, Berlin, Dubai. Some are city-centric, others follow the fox through nature.
By Bill Harby