- Ben & Jerry's
- Cédric Chevalley
- fund raising
- La Chaux-de-Fonds
- nail polish
La Chaux-de-Fonds: A Swiss city that is definitely cool!
Being invited by a city to evaluate whether it is cool or not…Honestly, how many times did that happen to you? To me: exactly once! The city: La-Chaux-de-Fonds. My verdict: if there is a Swiss city where I can see myself living happily ever after, it is La Chaux-de-Fonds!
How did this love story start? I launched my blog coolbrands.ch on 11.11.11 and just about one week or so after, I got a message from Eric Tissot on LinkedIn saying that he is inviting bloggers to come and experience La Chaux-de-Fonds. Curious by nature, I said “Why not, sure I’ll come!”. But, who is Eric?
Click click click, and I find out that that he is Responsible for communication and promotion at La Chaux-de-Fonds. I found the approach original! I mean really, have you heard of a city – in Switzerland – that would proactively go to the length of inviting a bunch of bloggers to experience “la ville”, to stay over and blog about their experience? Anyway, I was instantly intrigued.
La Chaux-de-Fonds to me at the time resumed watchmakers, countryside and long winters: definitely not the place where I would want to spend an entire weekend all by myself. So I asked Felipe, one of our bloggers, to come with me. Quite like me he was like: “Yeah, so what are we going to do there all weekend?”
Because I don’t like to go down the traditional tourist route, I have contacted a couple of people from “La Tchaux” on Twitter in the search of some inside info on where to go and on what is hot. Instantly, I got some great feedback. I love the Twitterverse for that!
So with a couple of tips in hand, we leave early on Friday morning, direction La Chaux-de-Fonds. About an hours train ride from Lausanne where we are based to La Tchaux and as we are climbing up to about 1000m altitude temperatures change significantly. Snow meets the bleary eye.
8:59 am, arrival at La Chaux-de-Fonds. The air is crisp, the morning beautifully sunny. Off we go towards “Chez Gilles” where we are housing for the weekend. Frankly, arriving at the hotel, we exchange inquiring looks: “Ah bon, so that’s where we gonna stay?” But as soon as Gilles takes us upstairs, we are enchanted: 4 very original bedrooms are presented to us and we can choose! Felipe opts for the room with hammam whereas I fall for the one in white with a bath tub in the middle of the room. A (girl’s) dream come true! We leave our stuff and go down to meet Fabienne, our guide.
Honestly, nobody will show you La Chaux-de-Fonds quite like Fabienne does. This girl’s passion and love for the city is contaminating! From “Le Pod” via “La Tour Espacité” to the “Art Nouveau staircases” she knows it all. Fabienne, a couple of books under her arm, explains in detail history and structure of the city, pointing out interesting details and facts.
We are enchanted and invite her over to Gilles’s for lunch, because we just can’t stop listening to her. Lunch: that is quite spectacular also. Gilles is not only owner of the hotel where we reside, he also is master butcher. The meal he is serving – Tripes neuchâteloises for me – is copious and quite simply delicious!
After that, off we go to Espace de l’urbanisme horloger to see a movie about the history and characteristics of the city. Magic!
Next: visit at Greubel Forsey. You gotta see it to believe it. Swiss watchmaking at its finest! We’ll write about that in detail.
Apero at Gilles’ and preparation for “ze night”… Where to go, what to do? No probs, we have plenty of bars and restaurants on our list. Let the pub scroll commence! Final destination: La Pinte Neuchâteloise. Oh man, the fondue is – how can I put it – enormous and absolutely delicious. It’s made of three cheeses: Gruyere, Emmental and Vacherin, I think. That changes from the “moité-moité” that I am accustomed to. And white wine and kirsch are flowing abundantly…
Happy and light-hearted I have only one wish: bath and dodo. About midnight, my first day at La Chaux-de-Fonds finds its blissful end.
Saturday morning: breakfast. And that’s quite something! The buffet is served in the bistro, but more than that, it is like Gilles opens his kitchen! Literally, it’s like you go down the kitchen in your own place and you take out of the cupboards all you like: honey, marmalade, Bircher muesli, cold meat, fruits. Awesome!
Next stop: the market. Hustling and bustling in the main street, everybody knows everybody, people chatting and laughing, children are running around. You’re enveloped by the familiarity that people share, the odours of fresh local produce and the high spirit that reigns.
In the café “Le Coin” we meet Annie Clerc, representative of the local authorities, and a photo journalist from L’Impartial for coffee before heading off to discover “Pont 8”, a bed & breakfast run by Katia Babey. Un “verre de blanc” in her company and more insight into the city’s secret stories about artists, politicians and local folk. We take lunch at ABC, a remarkable cultural centre comprising cinema, theatre and a restaurant, just as a journalist from Radio Suisse Romande calls to interview us about our stay here.
What’s next? Ah oui, shopping! So we stroll through the streets of La Chaux-de-Fonds, and find some cute little boutiques that have big names in their portfolio. Really, you can find a-n-y-thing here! And then, more or less by coincidence, we stumble upon La Maison du Fromage that is run by Pierre-Alain Sterchi, a specialist cheese-maker who has already won several awards for his outstanding cheeses. The shop was very very busy, which is why we didn’t request a guided visit of the cellar. Next time we’re in La Tchaux however, we will!
At about 5pm we’ve finished our shopping stroll and return to the restaurant. I am already a bit sad to leave the place. Although our schedule has been super busy, we’ve not seen half of what there is to see! But hey, this surely isn’t the last time we will be here. For my part, I am planning to return in June already and then there is the famous street festival La plage des 6 pompes in August. And that, we won’t miss under any circumstances!
Saturday, 6pm: Bye for now, la Chaux-de-Fonds. You have been deliciously original, beautiful and entertaining. I have fallen for you and will return within no time!
Eileen-Monika Schuch, founder of and blogger at coolbrands.ch
This post is also available in: German