Neuchatel
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Summer by the Lake in Switzerland
At the foot of the Jura mountains, with a view of the Alps across its vineyard-ringed lake, is the university town of Neuchâtel. Its distinctive sandstone architecture led the writer Alexandre Dumas to describe this French-speaking city as resembling 'an immense toy-city carved out of butter.' It felt like a great place to call home during the month I spent there: twilight at 10 p.m., breezes off the lake, nursing an espresso (or a glass of the local white wine) in the shade of Renaissance façades. The university attracts students from all over during its summer language programs; my classmates came from Italy, Poland, the Canary Islands, Canada, and the German-speaking regions of Switzerland. Hourly trains run to Neuchâtel ('Neuenburg' in German) from both Geneva and Zürich--the trip lasts about an hour and a half. Lausanne and Bern are only 40 minutes away by train. And yes, you can set your watch by those trains... (For more information about its summer language courses: http://www2.unine.ch/ilcf/page-10106_en.html And for Swiss rail schedules: http://www.sbb.ch/en/home.html)
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