Just minutes from downtown Neuchâtel Chaumont is a place to 'get a way from it all' for a few hours or a day. There's no real town up here, just a scattering of family residences, a small country school, a hotel, a couple of restaurants, a horseback riding stable, and a playground.
A funny thing about Switzerland is that, comparatively speaking, there aren't that many playgrounds for kids. Schools usually don't have them. My son Kristofer went from kindergarten to fifth grade to a fairly large school in the middle of Neuchâtel called Promenade. For the many hundreds of kids attending this school there is no playground and no gymnasium. There is one basketball hoop. Other than the basketball no other balls are provided. What do the kids do at recess? The kids either stand around in groups on the asphalt that surrounds the school for there isn't any grass or they improvise. Some play tag. My son would play soccer with other boys. They used a plastic bottle to kick around because they were not allowed to bring balls to school. Chaumont is different. It has a great playground. If you have smaller kids Chaumont is the perfect place to come and allow the kids to clamber over the play structures while you sit on the grass or on a bench, read a book or enjoy the trees and the birds twittering in the branches.
Just three minutes walk away is the Restaurant Petit Hotel , which is not a hotel at all, just a road-side restaurant in an old traditional Swiss building. They serve the normal Swiss meals including fondue or you can just go for a drink. The interior is a kind of traditional country style. If you get a table by the window you will have a great view of Lake Neuchâtel and the alps on the horizon if the weather is good. If you want some fresh air you can sit out on the terrace.
Across the road is the Hotel Chaumont which also serves meals. But the hotel is made of glass and steel and is modern. When in Switzerland I like eating in places that bring to mind Switzerland of the past. Modern I can get anywhere in the world. Beautiful old Swiss architecture is not everywhere, so I take advantage of it when I'm here.
Getting to Chaumont is pretty easy. If you have a car and you are starting from the center of Neuchâtel you can drive here in about fifteen minutes. You can also take a bus from Neuchâtel's town square, Place Pury or you take the funicular, the mountain cable car, which of course is the most glamorous way to get here. The funicular station is about ten or fifteen minutes walk or a ten minute bus ride from Place Pury. Ask at the bus ticket office on the town square how to get to the funicular station. Once you get on the funicular, Chaumont is at the end of the line. The end-station is a beautiful old structure. On one corner is a tall tower which offers an incredible view of the three lake area. You must put a franc in the turnstile to get access to tower. I suppose the franc helps pay for the sweeping of the tower steps twice a year.
The playground is one minute walk to the left as you exit the station. The Restaurant Petit Hotel is about four minutes to the left.
Horseback riding stable is about three minutes walk further down the road and will be on the right. If you don't see the horses there is an American Indian teepee standing next to the stables, so the stables are hard to miss.