La Chaux-de-Fonds (NE) and Morteau (F) are launching a cross-border application to host a stage arrival and departure of the Tour de France. The two cities motivate their approach in the name of the links that have united them via watchmaking for more than two centuries.
The announcement of the candidacy came to the press in Morteau on Friday, with the aim of highlighting the flow of trade between the Neuchâtel Mountains and Haut-Doubs. The project is “an additional sign of the confidence and momentum that drives an entire region”, despite the pandemic crisis affecting watchmaking.
“Hosting the Tour de France represents a huge challenge”, noted the municipal councilor of La Chaux-de-Fonds, Théo Huguenin-Elie, and the mayor of Morteau Cédric Bôle. “And succeeding will allow millions of people to discover a region that excels in the expertise in watchmaking and mechanical engineering.”
Proof of this is the current application to Unesco for inscription on the representative list of the intangible heritage of humanity of the emblematic living tradition of the Jura Arc: the arts and crafts in watchmaking, jewelry and engraving.
Trades which have been taught for over a century in Morteau, La Chaux-de-Fonds and Le Locle. In addition, each of the three cities houses a museum dedicated to the history of time. Unesco’s decision is expected next December.
Cities draw on their experience of organizing sporting events. La Chaux-de-Fonds hosted the Tour de France in 1998 as well as the Tour de Romandie sixteen times and the Tour de Suisse twice. Morteau, a frequent stopover in the Tour de Franche-Comté and the Tour du Doubs, has also received the Tour de l’Avenir four times.
The application file sent to the management of the Tour de France also proves that the cross-border Jura Arc believes in its assets. During the press conference, the speakers thus highlighted its quality of life, its landscapes, its mastery of advanced technologies and its training centers.
Beyond the economy and sport, La Chaux-de-Fonds is a candidate to become the first Swiss cultural capital in 2025. The Doubs was also on the menu. A natural border, it constitutes the “fertile cradle of cross-border activities and developments and a common denominator”.