Big Tobacco Goes Soft

Neuchâtel, Switzerland, is charming in the way all sleepy European cities are charming, only more-so. Even the graffiti is charming—an underpass bears the all-black inscription, “Rock And Roll.” Strict zoning laws, World War II neutrality, and ample limestone quarries preserved its rich architectural heritage, while avoiding modernism’s folly. Neuchâtel (new castle) was the only royalist government when it entered the Swiss confederacy in the 19th century, and the 12th century Romanesque castle, church, and prison parapet still dominate the skyline. A gorgeous Art Nouveau building houses a lady’s shoe store, the Frisbee Nightclub Cabaret, and Le Richelieu Canna-Weed Shop across the street from the Carrara marble Monument de la République 1848. Walk a block northwest and you’ll find the only beautiful Christian Science Reading Room in the world, a tasteful church fashioned in the neoclassical persuasion. It has Corinthian columns, because every building seems to have Corinthian columns.