From St-Ursanne to La Chaux-de-Fonds …continued from Grand Tour of Switzerland, day 3. From zen time in the historic Swiss Jura countryside to world-famous architectural townhouse design by Le Corbusier. But first sports.
Canoeing on the River Doubs
After a good night sleep and a proper Swiss breakfast with rösti (!) in the B&B Beau Bonne of the warm and lovely Madame Conny Wagner, we were as ready as one could be for our first outdoor experience of this trip: The river Doubs. By canoe.
First of all the weather was absolutely perfect. The sun was shining high in an amazingly – almost surrealistic – blue sky. After period of heavy rain in the Jura Hills, we were quite lucky to actually enjoy this activity today.
Since the water level has been so high, otherwise canoeing would have been too dangerous. But no such thing today, we could carefree paddle along the tranquil and beautiful river Doubs.
This river, also known as the Swiss/French green border, is a green landscape river and is unique in Switzerland.
Canoe trips on a bright day like today are an utterly calming – almost religious – experience. Yes, it might sound as if we were a little carried away. By the overwhelming beauty of this river ànd our instructor Jonas, our friendly guide on the river. What a way to start a monday morning. Would highly recommend this to everyone before hitting the office…
La Chaux-de-Fonds and Le Corbusier
Soon it was back to travel reality, after this mini retreat. The punctual Swiss train system wouldn’t wait for us. So after healthy quick-lunch in St-Ursanne, it was off to the city of watches and Le Corbusier: La Chaux-de-Fonds.
This city was founded in 1656. It’s growth, 37.000 inhabitants today, is mainly due to the watch-making industry. We will see more of this tomorrow.
Our afternoon is reserved for one of the most famous architects (plus designer ànd painter) in the world: Le Corbusier, born in La Chaux-de-Fonds.
Mentioning Le Corbusier and La Chaux-de-Fonds in one sentence can only lead to one place, Masion Blanche. Charles Edouard Jeanneret, who later called himself Le Corbusier, built this house for his parents in his native town, at the age of 25. We had the absolute honour to visit the house in private, since it’s normally closed on Mondays. Merci bien, Maison Blanche.
Friendly welcomed by the most passionate guide, one of the members of the Owners Association of the house, we could wander through every corner of the house, in search of subtle evidence of the man’s presence.
She took us by the hand in her deep love for the house, its legacy and Corbusier’ genius designs, being way ahead of its time. This architectural masterpiece served as a laboratory for his first construction techniques.
The building is of national importance, and something that’s now slowly but surely realised by the Town Council. Classified as an important national monument but abandoned for many years, La Maison Blanche now revives thanks to the commitment of citizens from all walks of life who founded the Owners Association in January 2000.
The house was completely renovated in 2005 and is now open to visitors every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. All the rooms, restored and furnished in the original style, feature many anecdotes and hidden references to this architect, underlined by private pictures throughout the house.
As we left, an hour of breathless listening to our guide later, we noticed his hat and walking stick at the coat rack. As if Le Corbusier had just arrived…
Today we checked in at the Passion d’une Vie, an impressive guesthouse in La Chaux-de-Fonds. This very special place is an Art Nouveau town house, built in 1908, as a former watchmakers home. Located in the heart of the northern quarter of La Chaux-de-Fonds. This characterful guesthouse, with only four luxury decorated bedrooms each with their own theme, is about personal warmth. Carefully created by the couple who owns it. We stayed in The Writer. We have to come back with more time on our side to relax in the state-of-the-art sauna in the relaxation area of our guesthouse.
Walking down the lane where the townhouse is situated you can admire the unique town planning while enhaling fresh air and the smell of the woods. You will also fall under the spell of la Villa Schwob, a bit further down the road, another one of Le Corbusier later masterpieces in this city. The ochre brick-work associated with concrete accentuates the oriental character of the house.
Our engaged guide from Maison Blanche was kind enough to drive us around, just to have a look at this astonishing building as well.
After a day full of inspiration, both by nature and architectural art, we are curious for what tomorrow will bring. We will end this exciting Grand Tour of Switzerland with an introduction to the world of watchmaking at The International Museum of Watchmaking. Time is everything. À demain!
Grand Tour of Switzerland - Day 1 Grand Tour of Switzerland - Day 2 Grand Tour of Switzerland - Day 3 Grand Tour of Switzerland - Day 4 Grand Tour of Switzerland - Day 5
This trip is an online influencers trip organised by MySwitzerland.com. We are here by invitation on behalf of Chapter Fifty and did not pay for any of the above-mentioned activities. Words, photos and opinions are my own.