Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Chocolate and Cheese in Gruyère, Switzerland

Cows in Gruyère, Switzerland
Gruyère cows enjoying their lunch

Switzerland is the land of chocolate and cheese. Nowhere is this more evident than Gruyère, home to Cailler chocolate and, of course, Gruyère cheese. It's also full of rolling hills, snow-capped mountains, quaint villages and medieval castles. Cows roam the countryside and their tinkling bells fill the air. A day in idyllic Gruyère is quintessentially Swiss and one we try to share with all our visitors.

Getting to Gruyère from Zurich is fairly easy - two and a half hours by train with two changes, the first in Fribourg and second in Bulle. The trains run once per hour. With an early start, there will be plenty of time to explore!

Gruyère, Switzerland
Gruyère, town and castle
Gruyère Castle, Switzerland
Gruyère Castle

Begin with a visit to the town of Gruyère and the Gruyère Castle. Follow signs for the short uphill walk from the train station (or catch the local bus). In town are cute shops fully of kitschy Swiss souvenirs and plenty of restaurants for lunch - or bring a picnic to enjoy on the castle grounds, like we did.

Gruyère Castle, Switzerland
Jamie exploring Gruyère Castle
Picnic Lunch at Gruyère Castle, Switzerland
Picnic lunch with a view at Gruyère Castle
After your stroll through town and lunch, head back downhill to La Maison du Gruyère. For a 7chf entry fee, you will learn how Gruyère cheese is made, watch the process in action and taste three varieties. 

La Maison du Gruyère, Switzerland
Cheesemaking at la Maison du Gruyère
Hop back on the train for a short ride to Broc-Fabrique. Take a deep breath when you arrive at the station - can you smell the chocolate? It's a short walk from the station to Maison Cailler.

Maison Cailler Chocolate Factory, Broc Fabrique, Gruyère, Switzerland
Jamie and me before eating too much chocolate.

The 9chf tour covers the history of chocolate and Cailler, information about how and where Cailler sources its raw ingredients and an overview of the manufacturing process. All in English (among other languages). Best of all, it ends in....

Maison Cailler Chocolate Factory, Broc Fabrique, Gruyère, Switzerland
...a buffet of chocolate.
I always leave with a stomachache. Well-worth it. Before you go, stop into the cafe for coffee or hot chocolate and stock up on discount candy bars. Or pop into the Nestle (the parent company of Cailler) shop by the train station for snacks on the train ride home. 
Maison Cailler Chocolate Factory, Broc Fabrique, Gruyère, Switzerland
May 2015 visit with Julie - so much colder than May 2016!
If there's time, I highly recommend hopping off the train in Bern for a stroll through town and a quick dinner. Bern isn't often on people's Swiss itinerary, but its Altstadt is probably my favorite of the larger Swiss cities. 
Bern, Switzerland
Altstadt in Bern
Have you been to Gruyère? We'd love to hear your thoughts!