Neuchâtel enjoys a premium location between the lake of the same name and Chaumont's slopes. Surrounded by vineyards, the pale ochre-coloured houses are built on terraces. The town joined the Swiss Confederation in 1815, after having been the King of Prussia's personal property from 1707. A centre of research for the clock-making industry, a university town, it is also a major centre of French culture. The lake is the largest expanse of water owned solely by Switzerland.