Positioned at around 1,000 metres in the Jura Mountains, La Chaux-de-Fonds was considered the capital of watchmaking for more than 100 years. Together with its sister city of Le Locle, it has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is famously the birthplace of the Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier.
Things to do in La Chaux-de-Fonds
If you’re interested in La Chaux-de-Fonds’ watchmaking history, don’t miss a visit to the International Museum of Horology, which is the largest museum of its kind in the world. It houses around 4,000 exhibits that include sundials, atomic clocks and goldsmith art, as well as around 2,700 watches and 700 wall clocks.
Another museum not to miss is the Musée Paysan et Artisanal, which occupies a Neuchâtel farm dating from the 17th century. It recreates the environment in which peasant watchmakers once worked, with huge wooden beams, rustic furnishings and open fireplaces for cooking meals. Get up close to antique tools and dismantled clocks waiting to be repaired or coincide your visit with one of the temporary exhibitions that are held here.
One of the earliest architectural works by Le Corbusier - Maison Blanche - is located in La Chaux-de-Fonds and is accessible to visitors. Also known as Villa Jeanneret-Perret, it was built for the architect’s parents in 1912 and has been beautifully restored to its former glory. In addition to guided and self-guided tours, this heritage property also regularly hosts lectures, concerts and exhibitions.
Getting around La Chaux-de-Fonds
La Chaux-de-Fonds is around an hour’s drive from Bern and 1.5 hours from EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg, which has flights to destinations across Europe and North Africa. Trains connect from cities throughout Switzerland to La Chaux-de-Fonds railway station while trolleybuses and buses travel throughout La Chaux-de-Fonds.