The Canton of Neuchâtel

On our Swiss number plates the flag of Switzerland is on the left and the one of the canton on the right.

This canton is one of my favorites. It is a smaller french speaking protestant canton with a population of only about 180’000 people. The city of Neuchâtel is located on the lake bearing the same name. Along the lake many vineyards grace the countryside. Behind the lake the Jura rises up with beautiful valleys such as the Val de Travers and the Val de Ruz. In the Jura of Neuchâtel there are the two bigger cities located: La-Chaux-de-Fonds and Le Locle. The border of France is very close to both of these cities. The highest peak is the Chasseral (1600m) with a tremendous view across the three lakes below and the whole range of the alps on the horizon. One particular attraction is the „Grand Canyon of Switzerland“ or le Creux-du-Van.

In the middle ages Neuchâtel was part of the kingdom of Burgundy. Around the year 1000 the German emperor Rudolf II inherited the canton. In 1308 Neuchâtel and Bern made a first pact. By 1530 under the influence of the reformer Guillaume Farel (sent by Bern) Neuchâtel turned protestant. In the later troubles of the reformation many Huguenots found refuge in the sparsely populated Jura mountains of the canton.

At the beginning of the 19th century Napoleon took Fribourg and Bern but left Neuchâtel almost untouched. The Canton only fully joined the Swiss Federation in 1815.

Neuchâtel is just 3/4 hour car drive from Bern. The city has an elegant flair along with the easy going French speaking culture. The mix of the lake, city and the beautiful Jura are unique.