Neuchâtel Region - A Natural Paradise for Families
The Canton of Neuchâtel is characterised by natural beauty, cultural diversity and a variety of local delicacies. It is known for its delicious wines and its important role in the Swiss watchmaking industry. The varied landscape invites visitors to do different kinds of sporting and leisure activities.
Geography - Between the Jura and the Three Lakes Region
The Neuchâtel Region (officially République et Canton Neuchâtel), also called the Canton of Neuchâtel, lies in the west of Switzerland. Its capital is the town of the same name (Neuchâtel) but its biggest town is La Chaux-de-Fonds. The canton has an area of 803 km² and counts 174,554 inhabitants. In the north, at the border of France, you see the Jura Mountains. A different part of this border are the Doubs gorges with the Lac des Brenets. The Three Lakes Region extends in the south - along to border of the Canton of Bern - and in the east - along the border of the cantons of Vaud and Fribourg. The Creux du Van, a distinctive and very impressive cirque, is also located along the border of the Canton of Vaud. The Neuchâtel Region is divided into four geographical greater regions: Le Littoral, the Val-de-Travers, the Val-de-Ruz and the Montagnes Neuchâteloise. Between Lake Neuchâtel and the mountain Chaumont (1,180 m) you find the valley Val-de-Ruz. The canton's main river Areuse issues into Lake Neuchâtel on its western side. At that point, the valley becomes a narrow gorge, the Areuse Gorge (French: Gorge de l'Areuse). This gorge soon develops into a high valley, the Val-de-Travers. The most important pass in the Swiss Jura Mountains is the Vue des Alpes, which is located between the towns La Chaux-de-Fonds and Malvilliers. Due to the reflection of the sun, the three lakes have a positive effect on the weather. The climate is mostly warm and temperate.
Nature - Breathtaking natural diversity
Lovers of nature definitely get their money's worth in this region. The fascinating cirque Creux de Van is a natural wonder. At the Lac des Brenets, you find the breathtaking waterfall Saut du Doubs, which is 27 metres high. The lake region near La Brévine with the Lac de Taillères is located at a height of 1,039 metres and is a great location for enjoying the region's natural beauty. From the mountain Chaumont, visitors have a wonderful view of the Three Lakes Region. The botanic garden in Neuchâtel with its Mediterranean flora invites visitors to relax. It holds carnivorous plants, cactuses as well as different species of frogs and salamanders in the ponds. In addition, there are two natural parks: the Chasseral Regional Park and the Doubs Nature Park (Parc du Doubs).
Culture - Diving into the world of watches
Since the Canton of Neuchâtel lies in the Suisse romande, its official language is French. In 2011, the city of Neuchâtel celebrated its 1,000-year existence. The canton looks back on an exciting history. Great powers repeatedly battled for the region: the Holy Roman Empire, the Kingdom of Prussia and the Napoleonic Empire. The Principality of Neuchâtel became part of the Swiss Confederation in 1815. Although Neuchâtel became a Swiss canton at that point, the King of Prussia was declared the Prince of Neuchâtel by the Congress of Vienna at the same time. It took until 1848 for Neuchâtel to break with the monarchy. Up to the economic crisis in the 1970s, the canton had a central role in the watchmaking industry but it lost this role to the region Biel/Bienne in the Canton of Bern. The towns Le Locle and La Chaux-de-Fonds are still very popular with travellers and have a number of different museums and exhibitions on the topic of the Swiss watches. One example is the Watch Museum in Le Locle. The Swiss Watchmaking Fair in La Chaux-de-Fonds, which takes place on the first Sunday in October every year, is very popular with fans of the Swiss watch. Experts, buyers and sellers get together at this event to exchange views. The canton is also known for its delicious wines. On the last weekend in September, the inhabitants celebrate the yearly Wine Festival, which marks the beginning of the vintage. The canton generally offers a great cultural variety with respect to literature, music, theatre and dance. Furthermore, it advocates cultural exchange. There are many museums and galleries as well as countless theatres. Examples are the Théâtre du Passage in Neuchâtel and the Centre de Culture ABC in La Chaux-de-Fonds. In addition, lovers of culture can marvel at the stilt houses, which the UNESCO acknowledged as remains of prehistoric settlements. The farm Grand-Cachot-de-Vent, an art gallery on one of the canton's oldest farms, is equally popular. Motorsports fans can visit the Louis Chevrolet sculpture, a bust of the racecar driver. From the Neuchâtel prison tower, you have an extraordinary view of the city and the lake.
Experience - Traditional cuisine and customs
Visitors find a variety of typical recipes in Neuchâtel such as the Neuchâtel fondue (a cheese fondue with bread). Cheese lovers can learn about the Gruyère cheese and its production in the La Martel Showdiary. Special delicacies are the Tripes à la Neuchâteloise or the Jacquerie neuchateloise (a stew made of sauerkraut and chicken breast fillet). To it you have Neuchâtel white wine. Worth trying are also the Saucisse au foie sur chicorée britchonne (a sausage on endive salad) or the Saucisse neuchateloise au Pinot noir (sausages and potatoes in a special sauce), which are eaten with bread. Other typical regional products are the dried sausage with hazelnuts, various kinds of sparkling wines, wines and the chocolate truffles from Oeil-de-Perdrix. You learn about absinthe and its production in the Absinth House in Môtiers. During the Neuchâtel Autumn Fire, sausages and potatoes are roasted over the embers of a big fire. The Canton of Neuchâtel is the ideal destination for romantic holidays as a couple or family holidays. You can explore the beautiful towns on characteristic tourist trains, which take you through Le Locle, Neuchâtel and La Chaux-de-Fonds. Visitors who take a helicopter flight from La Chaux-de-Fonds can marvel at the beauty of the Jura Mountains from above. Holidaymakers who want to go partying can visit the bars and discos in the bigger towns.
Activities - A great variety of activities in the midst of beautiful nature
The canton does not only cater for the tastes of lovers of culture and nature but also offers a lot for active travellers. Neuchâtel is one of the most beautiful hiking areas in Switzerland with many routes and trails. Visitors can explore the Revolutionary Path, which commemorates the Neuchâtel Revolution, the Vy aux moines, the Les Tourbières Path and the Wine-Grower's Path. A special experience is a hike along the incredibly beautiful Areuse Gorges. The region around Lake Neuchâtel and the Vallée de la Brévine are excellently suited for cycling or mountain biking tours. In addition, you can go horseback riding, skating and golfing. The many indoor swimming pools attract most of all the families. There is also a great number of pebble and sandy beaches around the Three Lakes Region such as the Marin-La Tène, the Hauterive, the Auvenier and the Pointe du Grain. All these beaches are publicly accessible. Many places offer children's playgrounds and the opportunity to play beach volleyball and minigolf. So, the beaches are perfect for fantastic family holidays. In winter, the Lac de Taillère offers great conditions for ice skating. You can rent the skates on site. Other winter sports which are possible in the region are cross-country skiing, Alpine skiing and snowboarding as well as snow shoe hiking. Travellers who want to go gambling are in good hands in the Casino Neuchâtel.
The Neuchâtel Region can easily be reached by public and private transport - whether you are taking the car, train or bus. Visitors can also arrive by plane. The nearest bigger airports are located in Bern (BRN) and Basel (BSL). Before setting on your journey, you should change money because the people in Switzerland pay in Swiss franc.
No matter if you want to spend your holidays romantically as a couple or with your whole family, the fascinating nature and historical sites with their wide range of cultural offers leave nothing to be desired. The Canton of Neuchâtel is the ideal destination for both active and recreational holidays.