Alexandre Dumas once said that Neuchatel (pop. 164,000) appeared to be carved out of butter. He was referring to its yellow stone architecture, but his comment could easily be taken as a reference to the rich treats in its famous patisseries. The old town centers around place des Hailes, a block from place Pury, the hub of every bus line. From pi. des Hailes, turn left onto r. de Chateau and climb the stairs on your right to reach Collegiale church and the chateau that gives the town its name. (Church open Apr.-Sept. daily 9am-8pm; Oct.-Mar. 9am-6:30pm.) You can enter the chateau only on free but dull tours. (Apr.-Sept. M-F every hr. lOam-noon and 2-4pm, Sa 10-1 lam and 2-4pm, Su 24pm.) The nearby Tour des Prisons (Prison Tower) on r. Jeanne-Hochberg, has a magnificent view. (Open Apr.-Sept. daily 8am-6pm. ISFr.) The Musee d’Hlstoire Naturelle, off r. de l’Hopital, is a more innovative version of the standard natural history museum. Turn right from pi. des Hailes onto Croix du Marche, which becomes r. de l’Hopital. (Open Su and Tu-Sa 10am-6pm. 6SFr, students 3SFr.) The Musee d’Arts et d’Histoire, esplanade Leopold-Rob-ert 1, houses an eclectic collection of weapons and textiles. (Open June-Mar. Su and Tu-Sa 10am-6pm; Apr.-May daily 10am-6pm. 7SFr, students 4SFr. W free.)

Trains run to Basel (l%hr. every hr. 5:30am-10:20pm, 34SFr); Bern (45min. every hr. 5:15am-ll:20am, 18SFr); and Geneva (lV&hr. every hr. 6am-ll:35pm, 40SFr). An underground tram runs from the station to the shore area, where you can catch bus #1 to pi. Pury and the tourist office, in the same building as the post office. Ask them to find budget pensions, ( 889 68 90. Open M-F 9am-noon and l:30-6pm, Sa 9am-noon.) Otherwise, try Hotel des Arts O, r. Pourtales 3, for a convenient location near nightlife. From the underground tram exit, walk a block towards the city center on av. du Premier-Mars and turn left onto r. Pour-talfes. Most rooms have TVs; all have phones. Ask for a room on the quiet side of the building. (727 61 61. Breakfast included. Reception 24hr. Check-out noon. Singles 87SFr, with bath 98-126SFr; doubles 112140-166SFr. AmExDCMCV.) Migros, r. de l’Hopital 12, sells groceries. (Open M-W 8am-7pm, Th 8am-9pm, F-Sa 7:30am-7pm.) Postal Code: CH-2001.


Ever since Switzerland won the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino (Tessin in German and French) from Italy in 1512, the region has been renowned for its mix of Swiss efficiency and Italian dolce vita no wonder the rest of Switzerland vacations here among jasmine-laced villas painted the bright colors of Italian gelato.

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