Valangin, Switzerland
Switzerland Valangin
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Hotel du Chateau
Village Architecture
Historic Water Fountains
Valangin's Main Village Street
In the old days travelers on foot or on horseback, coach or cart made their way down from the high country in and around La Chaux du Fonds to the village of Valangin just before the Seyon Gorge. Here at Valangin they would pay their road tax before continuing on to Neuchâtel.
In the 1500s or so a castle was built at the head of the gorge and beside the river to collect the taxes of people trafficking on the road at its base, and to provide some defense probably for local villages, and for Neuchâtel at the foot of the gorge. Valangin Castle, Canton Neuchâtel, Switzerland. Enlarge
Valangin Village, Canton Neuchâtel, Switzerland   We lived in nearby Neuchâtel for four years and no one told us of the fine little museum that the castle housed. The Swiss are so used to having ancient villages, castles, and superb scenery in their backyard that they don't think of saying to you, 'Hey, by the way . . . there is an excellent little museum in the castle at the top of the gorge. Just ten minutes from Neuchâtel. You can't miss it.'  
Probably most have never been to the museum themselves, and have only seen the village of Valangin when passing it on their way to La Chaux du Fonds. Do people who have grown up among the giant sequoias of California stop, notice, and appreciate the redwood giants? Not as much as people who see them for the first time, and so it is with castles in Switzerland. They are appreciated mostly by those who have not grown up with them. Anyway, the little town of Valangin, the castle and the castle museum are worth a visit. The ancient part of the village is very small. You can almost throw a baseball from one end to the other. And, there are usually so few people here, you have little chance of hitting anyone. At one time it was a walled village, and part of the wall and the village gate still stand, and almost all the buildings are original. Opposite the town gate is a stone fountain where villagers once collected water in buckets for home use (few had indoor plumbing during those days), water their horses and wash their clothes. The fountain is still functional as are most old fountains in Switzerland it seems. Valangin Fountain. Enlarge
Hotel du Chateau and Cafe du Chateau, Valangin, Switzerland. Enlarge   The village not to mention the castle is off the tourist routes, so except for local inhabitants you can pretty much have the village to yourself. One small hotel with restaurant stands opposite the entrance of the castle. Across the street from the restaurant is a small bakery. Within the village are two modest antique shops. The rest of the ancient village consists of a few other businesses, a church, and living quarters of present day villagers who happen to be residing in buildings dating back four or five hundred years.
Up the street is in the more 'modern' part of Valangin is a granary, and a little further beyond, after taking the left fork in the road, a small working sawmill. Neither are tourist destinations, and the owners would be surprised if you took any notice of their operations. But actually, small working saw mills are getting pretty rare these days, so if they has some logs ready to be sawn into planks it may be worth a look. Though the machinery now is powered by electricity, the mill sits next to a small river that provided the power to turn the saws in the old days. Lumber mill, Valangin, Switzerland. Enlarge
Valangin Castle Entrance
Buses from Neuchâtel to the village of Valangin leave from Neuchâtel's square Place Pury. Check the bus schedule for departure times. No trains stop here, incidentally. If you have a car, Valangin is just a ten minute drive from downtown Neuchâtel.

The castle of Valangin is open 10:00 to 12:00 and 2:00 to 5:00 daily except Mondays and open in the mornings only on Friday. During the colder months the castle is closed, but is open from March 1 to December 15. Entrance for adults is around five francs and less for kids, students, and groups. For more information be ready to use your French and call 032 857 2383.