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La Chaux-de-Fonds, a city in search of a mission

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FORUM DES 100 edition 2021, “Cities at the heart of change”

Housing, energy, mobility, employment… What will post-coronavirus urban agglomerations look like? This question will serve as a common thread for the next Forum des 100, organized on October 14, 2021, at the Swiss Tech Convention Center at EPFL. This first article in a series on cities, devoted to La Chaux-de-Fonds, announces the 17th edition of the forum which will also include several online meetings starting this spring. More information on

A white rectangle in a red circle, where you expected to find a white arrow in a blue square. An out-of-date GPS quickly turns a drive through the neighborhoods of La Chaux-de-Fonds into a labyrinthine wandering. If all the streets are well aligned in this city known around the world for its checkerboard layout inherited from the watch industry, reaching its destination sometimes requires several attempts and detours.

What is true for the lost motorist is also true for the journalist seeking to understand why this city has not been able to retain its inhabitants for six. The multiplication of phone calls and meetings does not change anything. There are undoubtedly as many opinions on these questions as there are in Chaux-de-Fonniers, that is to say 36,899 at the end of 2020. This is 573 less than the previous year – 2,146 compared to 2014 – but there are still a lot of them.

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