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The canton of Neuchâtel, a region with a wealth of cultural and natural treasures

To introduce the canton of Neuchâtel, we take a trip to the countryside. It is just an ideal resort for those who want to spend their holidays close to nature and get to know the traditional heritage of a region. Ecological & rural tourism and sports activities are the strong points of what the cantons of Neuchâtel and Jura have to offer.

La Chaux-de-Fonds, International Center of Watchmaking
Hike in the Natural Reserve of Creux-du-Van and Gorges d'Areuse
The Neuchâtel lakeside region and its vineyards
Neuchâtel - Chaumont, from 422 to 1,180 meters

 
     
 
La Chaux-de-Fonds, International Center of Watchmaking

La Chaux-de-Fonds today is a candidate for the world heritage list of UNESCO. The town is considered an exceptional example of a symbiosis between industry and urban planning, as most of it was built in the 19 th century during the rise of the watchmaking industry. Although La Chaux-de-Fonds had been a town since 1656, it only became important after it was destroyed by a big fire in 1794. The new city was designed on a grid plan, i.e. the houses built in the 19 th century, when the town became the center of the watchmaking industry, were laid out in a checkerboard fashion. Reconstruction was carried out according to the concept of “Sonnenbau”, influential at the time, so, houses were erected on the northern side of the valley to optimally benefit from a natural illumination, perfect for the needs of watchmakers for their workshops.

Many houses built around 1900 were designed in Art Nouveau genre, i.e. its local variety called Art Sapin. A guide will point up amazing examples and details of this distinct style to you on a guided tour of the town. But there is more early modern architecture to see at La Chaux-de-Fonds. In 1887, a certain Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris, better known under the name of Le Corbusier, was born here. Some of his most beautiful early project can be found here. Open to the public is the Maison Blanche (White House) which the great architect built for his parents; besides there are the Villa Turque (Turkish Villa) and other mansions that can be explored on a guided tour focusing on the evolution of Le Corbusier’s work.



Information :

Site officiel de la Ville de la Chaux-de-Fonds:
www.chaux-de-fonds.ch

Tourism Office la Chaux-de-fonds

Espacité 1 (big red tour) +41/ (0)32 889 68 95
Website

International horology Museum
Rue des Musées 29 +41/ (0)32 967 68 61
Open: Monday to Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm
Website

Musée d'Histoire naturelle
Avenue Léopold-Robert 63 +41/ (0)32 967 60 71
Open: Tuesday to sunday from 10 am 5 pm
Admission: 12,50/15 CHF
Website

Zoo du Petit Bois du Château & Vivarium
Bus no 4 « Hôpital »  >>> Rue A.-M.-Piaget
Open: 8 am to 6 pm (winter) to 6 pm (Summer)
+41/ (0)32 967 60 74
Website

 
     
 
Hike in the Natural Reserve of Creux-du-Van and Gorges d'Areuse

If you spend your holiday in the Canton of Neuchâtel, on a walking tour in the nature reserve of the Creux-du-Van you will discover one of the most beautiful landscapes of Romandy and one of the most impressive geological sites of Switzerland – the natural rock cirque of Creux-du-Van.
The place-name probably of Creux-du-Van was derived from the Celtic word “vanno”, which means “slope”, or from Franco- Provençal „van“, meaning „rock“. The semicircular rock basin has a diameter of 1,400 meters (over 4,500 feet), and its steep cliffs rise almost 160 m (over 500 ft) from the ground, the highest point of the mountain ridge reaching 1,463 meters.

The geological origin of the spectacular formation goes back the glacial period, when a small glacier eroded a deep valley at this spot before uniting with the big Rhone glacier on the plain. At the bottom of the depression, the subsoil below the debris normally remains frozen during the whole year (permafrost).

Tour Around the Creux-du-Van and Through the Areuse Gorge


This day tour begins at Neuchâtel train station, where you take the local train to Noiraigue (direction Buttes, hourly departure times 40 minutes past the hour / :40 h, e.g. at 9:40 am, see Open CFF/SBB). The train passes through the gorge of the Areuse River and you can already catch a glimpse of the Creux-du-Van. After twenty minutes you arrive at Noiraigue station from where you set off on foot (0:00).

The place-name Noiraigue is composed of the words “nigra” and “aqua”, which means “black water”. In fact, the village is named after its river whose waters are dark with peat (they originate from the Vallée des Ponts, i.e. the Bied river that disappears into a sinkhole near Ponts-de-Martel). Just follow the river through the village and you will arrive at the spring after five minutes. From there, follow trail markers (red triangles) in the direction of Creux-du-Van (Soliat). At first, the trail leads up a gently slope until the first rest at the farm inn “Les Oeillons” (00:50). These farms – called “métairie” – where simple, good meals are served are typical of the Jura Mountains. Sometimes they also offer rustic accommodation for hikers (gîte rural). Then, you continue on the well-known trail of the 14 bends (sentier des 14 contours) which is rather steep, as there is a level difference of 700 m (2,300 ft). As compensation, the path climbs up through a beautiful mixed and spruce forest, already part of the nature reserve, where with a bit of luck you can spot roe or ibex (other inhabitants such as lynx or capercaillies are harder to detect). Once you have reached the crest, take a good break to admire the breathtaking view of the rock amphitheater and have a sandwich – if you can’t wait until you reach the Métairie du Soliat” (01:50). The next span leads up to Soliat (02:15), the highest point of the tour (1,463 m/4,800 ft). From there, you have several options. We recommend to descend on the other side of the rock cirque and take the “Chemin du Single” trail until Ferme Robert (03:15). From there, you can either walk directly to the Noiraigue train station (20 minutes) to take the train back to Neuchâtel or else follow the trail markers in direction of Champ du Moulin that lies on the railway line to Neuchâtel. The second tour takes you through the most beautiful part of the gorge of river Areuse with its scenic stone bridge (photo).

The Canton of Neuchâtel is a real paradise for hikers, thanks to the rich variety of its landscape. So, you really should plan for a day of hiking right from the start. Recommendable tours, besides the one described above, lead to Chasseral summit, the mountain pass Vue des Alpes, the valley of river Doubs or to the Chaumont (see below).

Information :

La Ferme du Soliat

Avenue Léopold-Robert 102 +41/ (0)32 753 17 20
Open: Monday to saturday from 10 am to 5 pm
Website (Pellaux)

La Ferme Robert
Avenue Léopold-Robert 102 +41/ (0)32 753 17 20
Open: Monday to saturday from 10 am to 5 pm
Website: www.ferme-robert.ch

Hiking maps:
- Map of Switzerland 1:25'000, Travers n° 1163
- Map of hiking trails in the Canton of Neuchâtel,
1:60'000 chez Kümmerly+Frey
www.touripedestre-ne.ch
www.balades.ch

Website about the nature reserve of Creux-du-Van with all farm inns (métairies) in the area :
www.restaurants-montagne.ch

Informations (french) :
www.travers-info.ch

 
     
 
The Neuchâtel lakeside region and its vineyards

If you want to appreciate the region of Neuchâtel, you should leave the town and go out to discover the villages of the lakeside region, such as Cormondrèche, Auvernier, Saint Blaise and Hauterive. They are well connected by public transportation. From Neuchâtel, you can take the local train no. 5 (Littorail) or get on a bus of the lines no. 1 or 7 at Place Pury. If you fancy walking, we recommend a walk through the vineyards. There are plenty of footpaths in that area that connect the village of the wine-producing region. The landscape of vineyards and forests is scenic, and the trails offer beautiful views of the lake and of the Alps and its foothills, which are another plus for this charming region.

In addition to the walking tour, we also recommend a wine tasting. Hospitable winegrowers will serve you high-quality wines with a distinct character, of which the Oeil de Perdrix (partridge eye) made from Pinot Noir grapes is the most famous. Due to low production volumes the wines from this region are hardly available outside Switzerland. So why not take some bottles as a travel souvenir for your friends.

Walking tour from Cormondrèche to Auvernier

This is a short but lovely excursion of no more than 30 minutes actual walking time (photo). From Place Pury in the center of Neuchâtel, take bus no. 1 to Cormondrèche and get out at the terminal stop, which lasts about 20 minutes. In the village of Cormondrèche follows the pedestrian signs. You cross right through the old village and if you could do with a glass of wine, stop by for a tasting at Cave du Prieuré, a typical wine cellar. From the fountain, next to the Château du Prieuré, the path leads through the vineyards, passing by the colorful gardens of the villagers. In Auvernier, make sure to venture onto the narrow paths that start behind the old houses in the village center. They are particularly romantic and picturesque, and all of them take you to the Château d’Auvernier, another castle-like mansion. When you arrive at the lakeshore, don’t forget to stop by the port where the Restaurant du Lac serves a nice dish of perch, fresh from the lake. There is also a long beach at Auvernier (walking toward Neuchâtel). To return to the town, you can take the streetcar (tram) which takes you there in 15 minutes.

Information :

Guided tour with Véronique Françoise

Caves du Prieuré

Grand-Rue 25-27, 2036 Cormondrèche, +41/ (0)32 731 53 63
From monday to friday: 8-12am & 14-18pm, Sat. 8-12am
Website

Les Caves de la ville de Neuchâtel
Avenue DuPeyrou 5 - 2000 Neuchâtel +41/ (0)32 717 76 95
Monday to friday from 7h30 am to 12 pm / 01h30 to 05 pm
Website: www.cavevillentel.ch

Les Caves du Château d'Auvernier
Château d'Auvernier - 2012 Auvernier +41/ (0)32 731 21 15
Monday to friday from 7h30 to 12 pm 01h30-05h30 pm, sat. 10am to 12am
Website: www.chateau-auvernier.ch

Pinte la Golée (Café)
Grand-rue 36, 2012 Auvernier, +41/ (0)32 731 67 46
Open: Monday to sunday from 04 am to 01 pm
Website: www.lagolee.ch

L'Office des vins et des produits du terroir (OVPT)
Website with all wine cellars: www.ovpt.ch

La route du vin avec l'OVPT: Website


 
     
 
Neuchâtel – Chaumont, from 422 to 1,180 meters

Typical for Neuchâtel is the variety of its landscapes of which you already become aware of in the town itself with the lakeshores, the rivers of Seyon and Serrières, abundant in fish, the vineyards on the southern slopes of the Jura mountains with the neighboring villages of Hauterive, Saint-Blaise, Cormondrèche and Auvernier, the forest vegetation, which changes one climbs up the mountain. Another characteristic of the region are, of course, the summits of the Jura of which Chaumont lies on Neuchâtel territory. At the edge of Neuchâtel (get there with bus no. 7, stop “La Coudre”) is the bottom station of the funicular that allows you to make it up to the Chaumont mountain ridge– a rise of 570 m (1,870 ft) – in 15 minutes without getting tired.

From the top station on Chaumont and the adjoining lookout, you can enjoy a wonderful panoramic view of the lakes of Neuchâtel, Morat (to the south) and Bienne (to the east). In the distance, you can distinguish the famous peaks of the Swiss Alps – Eiger, Mönch (monk) and Jungfrau (virgin) in the Canton of Berne. On clear days, it is sometimes even possible to spot the summits of the Mont Blanc and the Cervin. In winter, the funicular provides a way out of the mists lying in the valleys. From the viewing tower, you then look down on a sea of clouds – a magnificent sight. On Chaumont, there is a restaurant and also a grand hotel, if you feel like breathing mountain air for a longer time. To get down again to Neuchâtel, you can take the geology trail “Sentier du Temps” that provides information on the length of 4.5 km (2.8 miles) – a journey through the history of earth on which each meter correspond to a million years. At Payot bookstore, you can buy a guidebook about the trail, that ends above the town, at the museum dedicated to the Swiss writer Friedrich Dürrenmatt (building by Mario Botta) that also organizes art exhibitions.

Information :

Public transportation in the lakeside region of Neuchâtel

TN - Place Pury, 2000 Neuchâtel +41/ (0)32 720 06 58
Monday to friday : 7 am to 6 pm
Saturday : 8h30 am to 11h30 am
Web: www.tnneuchatel.ch

Funi-fondu: Travel with the funicular and enjoy a fondue dinner on the mountain From mid-October to end of March, Wednesday through Saturday nights
Information (TN)

The guidebook “Funi-nature” is available at the tourist office, in bookstores or online : www.neuchatelville.ch
12 CHF

Restaurant "Petit-Hôtel du Château"
Ch. de la Tour 20, 2067 Chaumont NE
+41/ (0)32 753 24 10

Hiking information
Web: www.touripedestre-ne.ch

Jardin botanique - Botanischer Garten
Pertuis-du-Sault 58, 2000 Neuchâtel +41/ (0)32 718 23 50
April to september from 9 am 8 pm
October to march 9 am to 5 pm
Website: www.unine.ch/jardin

 
     
 
Other places to visit

More suggestions of interesting places to visit under the rubric “Surprising places and relax” on the “Culture & Leisure” page. And don’t forget to look on the “Museums” page.

If you have any suggestions or would like to complete this page with another topic (Neuchâtel in the winter, the nature reserves of the canton, etc.), feel free to contact us.

 
     
 
Folowing: Museums of the City and the Canton of Neuchâtel

LatLon-Europe presents a choice of the most remarkable museums for every city, be it a metropolis or a small town. Allow yourself to be surprised by the quality of diversely themed and inspirational museums.



For example: International horology Museum

Click here to go to the page "Museums of the city"  –  Next page >>>
 
     





Guided tours in Neuchatel



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