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
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
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.
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.
Many hiking or mountain biking
trails start off or pass through Chaumont. Thirty paces in
front of the funicular station is a sign post giving destinations,
distances in walking time, and maps. The hikes are of varying difficulty,
but I doubt that any are arduous. Though there are no slopes for downhill
skiing Chaumont has trails to do some cross-country skiing.
Kids sometimes bring their sleds for a short run down the slopes near