Swiss Weekend, part II: La Chaux-de-Fonds & Le Locle

We had a full itinerary for Saturday, I can barely write it all down! It all started with a morning walk in this beautiful winter wonderland.

1425552_10151871424463541_559155180_n1472913_10151871424608541_955204881_n

The photo of the house is actually a house-museum that Le Corbusier built it for his parents (he is a famous 20th century architect and designer). In case you didn’t realize by now, I studied Art History at university and lucky for me so did Léonore. A match made in nerdy heaven!

Read more from UNESCO: The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier, an Outstanding Contribution to the Modern Movement

1479201_10151871424618541_559808188_n

The photo above gives you a glimpse into the reason La Chaux-de-Fonds and its neighbor La Locle are a joint UNESCO Site: watchmaking. How does this photo come close to showing that? Well, since you asked…watchmaking here dates to the 17th century but there was a fire that razed the two towns to the ground and the city officials used this as an opportunity for some urban planning upgrades. Each row of houses are accompanied by a garden, these gardens force the buildings to be wider apart, therefore allowing in more light (especially in the dark winter days) which was needed for the meticulous and tiny watchmaking craft. Have you ever looked inside a mechanical watch!? They certainly needed the light in days before electricity! Similar to a previous UNESCO Site I visited, Crespi d’Adda, these were “factory-towns,” where people lived and worked in the same space and the whole urban planning reflected their main industry.

Read more: Bergamo & Crespi d’Adda: Cities of mountains, industry, and lots of walking

In the same day we went to a watch museum, traditional Swiss farm house-museum, and underground mills in Le Locle. The mills were one of the strangest, most innovated things I’ve ever seen.

IMG_7025IMG_7028IMG_7032IMG_7047IMG_7050IMG_7054IMG_7055

Brief story of the mills: there was a river that flowed underground and townspeople wanted to harness its hydro-electric force to power mills for grinding grain, so they built water mills underground and created a mill/workshop in these caves.  I’m doing a terrible job of explaining the awe these mills inspired but imagine you found Santa’s workshop in an underground cavern – same feeling.

The mills were used for many many years but when they were decommissioned, people started dumping tons of animal fat down the caves (disgusting I know). A group of volunteers (brave ones) decided it was a shame these historic mills were being used as a dumping ground, so they shoveled out all the fat (which there were feet and feet of) to create this interesting museum. Thank you to those brave souls!

After the tour of the mills we went on a drive up the mountain because Léonore’s dad wanted to show me a beautiful view where I could see France across the river. Well…this is what I saw:

1457509_10151871425698541_933039810_n

But! It was a beautiful winter wonderland ride and we stopped in a lonely restaurant for some spiced hot wine (delicious!) and the most amazing, gaudy, kitsch, Christmas extravaganza I’ve ever seen, and I never thought I would say that outside of America. Enjoy the photos but know there is nothing like being in the middle of it!

1459878_10151871426143541_1452379648_n1459704_10151871425743541_1782757756_n

1455082_10151871426263541_794269371_n1450325_10151871426193541_331168093_n1459229_10151871425953541_1737576499_n

Almost done! Last but certain not least I bought lots of chocolate (Merry Christmas family! I’m saving them for you!) and ate cheese fondue for dinner!

1425779_10151871426673541_2137393398_n1450732_10151871426323541_1257686156_nIMG_7066

JMO


TEMPLATE_ General (1)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.